The continued prominence of Amazon has been well documented during the coronavirus pandemic. As retail outlets continue to shutter around the world, Jeff Bezos’ company goes from strength to strength along with his status as the world’s richest man.
With that in mind, irony will be lost on no-one as reports circulate suggesting Amazon is planning to turn empty department stores and shopping malls into regional distribution centres in the United States.
Reports say Amazon is working with Simon Property, which runs buildings once occupied by fading US retail giants J.C Penney and Sears, to move in and create local distribution hubs in shopping malls.
Today’s new comes from the Wall Street Journal and claims Amazon would look to store products like kitchenware, electronics, books and sweaters in the empty stores. Simon is the US’s largest shopping mall owner, but in the era of Covid 19, traditional means of shopping are even more endangered.
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Shopping malls have felt endangered for some time and are already decades away from their 1980s and 1990s heyday, when they acted as social hubs for impressionable youths. Indeed, the Starcourt Mall depicted in Stranger Things Season 3 was actually shot in a dying mall in Georgia.
JC Penny recently announced it is filling for bankruptcy and will be closing 154 of its remaining stores in the United States. Sears is also planning to close 96 stores across the country as the pandemic continues to decimate already dwindling physical sales. Amazon and Simon have not yet commented on the speculation, but it would be a somewhat unfortunate reality of modern commerce.
Amazon now accounts for 5% of all sales in the United States and 49% of e-commence sales and has doubtlessly contributed to the failings of brick and mortar retailers in the US and beyond. That decimation would be complete if Amazon moved into former retail outlets and turned them into warehouses.