Once banished to the central food court, dining has become much more than a retail afterthought.

People are dining out more often at all price points, new restaurant and food concepts are exploding and opportunities are being created for retail centers of all types. In this report, Colliers International brings together the voices of retail real estate professionals and retail center representatives to deliver insight into food-driven trends and opportunities.


  • Understand the rising role of food in retail – Even in today’s world of online convenience, where you can use an app to get groceries delivered to your doorstep, people still want to dine out. Retail centers are increasingly creating vibrant and lively areas anchored by a collection of food offerings.
  • Recognize food evolutions (and revolutions) – Food trends move quickly but some important shifts are more persistent. Several recent shifts that savvy retailers, owners and operators are keying into include the growth of fast casual, health-oriented and chef-driven dining concepts.
  • Design for cross-shopping: parking and place – Whether dining out leads to additional retail spending depends largely on how easy it is to “cross-shop.” In particular, we see thoughtful design supporting cross-shopping in mixed-use developments or “urban enclaves” functioning as suburban downtowns and magnets for millennial workers and employers.
  • Use technology to your advantage – New tools can make urban design more efficient and profitable for retailers. Technology also makes consumers more willing to travel to buzzed-about restaurants, bringing traffic to areas that might not typically receive this type of attention.
  • Specialize, specialize, specialize – The growth of small, distinctive shops plays into a broader shift toward customization and specialization. Look for fewer chains and more boutiques and high-quality “makers” coming to the market. These types of specialty stores will be an important ingredient in the retail center tenant mix of the future.