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Bringing supermarkets to underserved neighborhoods: A case study

Delores M. Pluto, PhD1, Tracy L. Pearch, MS, MPH2, Fran C. Wheeler, PhD3, Teresa Hill, RD, MS4, and Dennis Shepard, MAT, CHES3. (1) Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, 730 Devine St., Columbia, SC 29208, (803) 576-5994, dpluto0@gwm.sc.edu, (2) Health Works, Palmetto Health, Taylor at Marion St, Columbia, SC 29220, (3) Chronic Disease Directors, 1107 Rutland Ave, West Columbia, SC 29169, (4) Division of Obesity Prevention and Control, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC DHEC Mills/Jarrett Complex, Box 101106, Columbia, SC 29211

Objectives: To describe public policy and private decision factors that influence supermarket location. Methods: Literature searches were conducted in the academic and “gray” literature to identify decision factors related to supermarket placement. Key informant interviews were conducted with representatives of local government, supermarket chains, and commercial development companies to solicit their perspectives on factors related to supermarket location. Local news stories provided background information about efforts to bring a supermarket to downtown Columbia, SC. Results: The literature discusses a) the migration of supermarkets out of the inner city, b) factors that are considered when supermarket location decisions are made, and c) the reemergence of supermarkets into the same areas. Eight factors related to supermarket location included population/demographics of trade area, available land, profitability, land use policies, transportation/access, and local history/politics. A case study from Columbia, SC, illustrates how a long-term public commitment to redevelopment improved conditions to successfully attract a supermarket to the downtown area. Conclusions: As businesses that must be able to succeed long-term, supermarkets are concerned with more than just bringing food to communities. With small profit margins in the industry, supermarkets location decisions are based on private decision making rather than public policy per se. Community development efforts to increase the population and buying-power of underserved areas can make these areas more attractive to supermarkets. Pubic health practitioners, with a long history of working in community health development, could help bring supermarkets back to underserved communities by working with business and community development partners.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to

    Keywords: Nutrition, Underserved

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Addressing Disparities in Nutrition and Physical Activity Through Environmental Change

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA