U.S. grocery store openings were down sharply in 2017, according to a new study.

Store openings fell 28.8 percent from 2016, according to the 2018 U.S. Grocery Tracker report by Chicago-based JLL, a professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management.

California, Texas, Virginia and North Carolina were among the states with the most store openings last year. Grocers that performed well in 2017 focused on healthy foods, affordable offerings, private label products and improving digital platforms, according to JLL.

Grocery-anchored shopping centers remain an attractive property for investors, according to the report; the number of new ones increased by 5.3 percent in 2017. “It was one of the only retail sectors to see growth in a year of low transaction volume. Grocery-anchored centers remain a safe bet for investors as overall transaction volumes for retail have been down, indicating that the asset remains a stable sector.”

Grocery store trends to watch in 2018, according to JLL, include:

  • Smaller and more focused stores;
  • Data-driven technology;
  • Blockchain;
  • Partnerships and consolidations; and
  • Rapid checkout.