Columbia retail adapts and gains resiliency amid pandemic
- Several of the Columbia Bi-Lo grocery stores will be converted to Food Lion and Lowe’s by next summer.
- Quick service restaurant facilities are evolving to keep up with customer needs.
- Despite a rising vacancy rate in the Columbia retail market, positive retail activity is occurring.
Fast casual restaurants continue to adapt
Quick service restaurants were gaining sales momentum prior to COVID-19 due to speedy service, convenience and ongoing upgrades to food quality - beginning the trend from fast food to fast casual restaurants. Aesthetic changes and healthy option upgrades led to increased business velocity. Throughout the pandemic, adaptive quick service restaurants continue to thrive by adding curbside pick-up, call ahead ordering and delivery options. In addition, many are decreasing the indoor dining area square footage and adding extra drive-thrus or outdoor seating to provide an enhanced level of safety to diners. Furthermore, restaurant owners are looking to purchase existing buildings rather than constructing new restaurants due to rising construction prices and difficulty getting necessary construction materials. Suburban locations are popular for adding new stores so they are closer to residential areas where many people are still working remotely.
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