Great News for Real Estate Market--but Less So for Supermarkets

May 2010

Forget the Great Recession: April home sales were so brisk, as buyers rushed purchases in order to qualify for tax credits, that it was the best April on record for Denver home-buying activity, according to InsideRealEstateNews. Some 6,616 area homes went under contract last month, an outstanding 27.6 percent increase from April 2009. But once all those new movers are unpacked, where are they going to get their groceries? In a trend that begs at the issue of blight, The Denver Post notes a large number of shuttered supermarkets along the Front Range, some boarded up and covered in graffiti. For some neighborhoods described as "food deserts," the lack of a grocery store can pose serious nutrition issues. Health workers, including the Colorado Health Foundation, are trying to find ways to lure markets back into those neighborhoods. Some of the barriers, from a grocer's point of view, can include security, finding reliable workers, and having a large enough space. Moreover, "a lot of grocery retailers are looking at the demographics of a population, and income is one of those," says Monica Buhlig of Kaiser Permanente. Some are looking to government to provide tax incentives or revitalization money, but, surprisingly, the organic food trend might be the salvation. Big grocery stores, where it may be harder for people to find out where their food comes from, are being challenged by smaller stores and farmers markets that emphasize local products, according to the Post.