The food desert is that stretch of town or region where no grocery stores are operating, forcing residents into leaving the area to shop for basics, or worse, subsist on junk food for lack of better choices. In social and health terms, food deserts are a serious problem, but in economic terms they can represent commercial real estate opportunity. CRE investors seeking to profit from filling local needs can do much worse than finding highly populated areas that are underserved by grocery stores. These areas cry out for the development of food stores to fill the gap. Tools to find these areas are very helpful for acquisition and site selection – but where can one find these tools?
As it turns out, the federal government is one place to look. Enter the Food Desert Locator, a website run by the US Department of Agriculture. It’s an interactive web application that takes reams of real estate, economic and demographic data and provides an easy-to-use mapping interface to cut through the clutter to get to the sites that really cry out for grocery stores.
The mapping application allows you to select areas based on income and access to grocery stores, as well as compare trends across years to find areas that have seen changes in access. Subpopulations are also selectable, allowing a range of site selection criteria.
Of course the final step in conducting this research is to use CommercialSearch.com to browse the retail property and land listings that lay in the areas you define with the Food Desert Locator.
With this one-two punch, site selection can be easy, quickly bringing you one step closer to a high-foot-traffic, only-game-in-town investment play in grocery store development.