Excess parking facilities and underused retail space could be redeveloped into small-scale last-mile delivery or pickup facilities, according to Fitch Ratings.
A significant amount of space is coming available as retailers speed up store closures, with Credit Suisse estimating that more than 8,600 retail locations will close this year.
The trend is already having an impact in both brick-and-mortar and online retailing. Brick-and-mortar retailers are converting closed stores and repurposing space in existing stores to serve as makeshift distribution centers. Meanwhile, online merchants are opening physical locations to reach more customers with services such in-person pickups and returns.
“The function of the real estate is the same: providing a way to distribute goods to customers,” said Fitch Ratings.
Shopping centers and malls that are located in areas with higher per-capita income and population density could be more easily repositioned with additional delivery and pickup amenities, said Fitch Ratings. In denser areas where land is scarce, retailers who are focused on speed of delivery are considering warehouse space in former shopping malls already located near residential communities.
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