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The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon have caused consumers in the Northeast to forego eating in restaurants and return to supermarkets, increasing sales of home meal replacement items and comfort foods.
At the International Council of Shopping Centers conference here Thursday, a panel of real estate officials from major Northeast chains, including Acme, Pathmark, Giant Food, Giant Food - Carlisle, Superfresh and Clemens Markets was asked if they had noticed a change in business since the September 11 attacks.
"Our business has not dropped off," said Richard Dugan, director of real estate, Giant Food, Landover, Md. "People are traveling less, staying home and avoiding events where they would normally go to eat."
"I think that trend is going to continue for a while," said Alex Aronico, director of real estate, Acme Markets, Malvern, Pa. "We're seeing that more on the East Coast with our Acme stores than in California with Albertsons. As we return to traditional and family values, the public does not want go out to a restaurant. They just want to be with their families," he says.
Although he didn't have exact figures, Aronico speculated that much of the growth was coming from home meal replacement items. "I would venture to say that HMR is a very large portion of the increase. It is not just in traditional groceries," he says.
Many consumers are also reluctant to venture out at night. "Check the parking lots at 5:00 and you'll find that a lot of people are leaving work early to be with their families," said Charles Chisholm, senior real estate director, Pathmark Stores, Carteret, N.J.
"Family does count, and as we go into the future you are going to see more and more families getting together for dinner instead of going out," said Joseph Gilchrist, director of real estate, Clemens Markets, Kulpsville, Pa.
The New York-based ICSC did its part to help the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks by presenting the American Red Cross with a check for $1 million during the conference.