An Examination of Failed Grocery Store Interventions in Former Food Deserts

Health Educ Behav. 2019 Oct;46(5):749-754. doi: 10.1177/1090198119853009. Epub 2019 Jun 19.


Background. Implementing food stores in deprived neighborhoods to improve access to healthy food is a debated topic. Aims. To uncover important contributors to the closure of grocery store interventions in urban food deserts. Method. We systematically reviewed both peer-reviewed and gray literature for publications on the failure of grocery store interventions. Results. We found nine articles on six different failed food stores. The reasons stated for closure included low sales, a lack of food retail experience, poor marketing, and difficulty in attracting and retaining a high volume of consumers from the local market. Discussion. Current literature on the topic of the closure of inner-city grocery stores does not have a concise rationale to explain why inner-city grocery store interventions were not successful. Conclusion. We must consider the most appropriate interventions to improve food environments in food deserts using local and national policies to address the social determinants of health.

Keywords: food deserts; food environment interventions; poverty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Commerce*
  • Food Supply*
  • Fruit / supply & distribution
  • Humans
  • Poverty*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Urban Population*
  • Vegetables / supply & distribution