Amazon is on a shopping spree — for abandoned malls.
The e-tailer is snatching up shuttered shopping malls throughout the nation and converting them into distribution centers. Amazon's recent acquisitions include malls in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Knoxville, Tennessee, both of which the technology giant purchased last month. Last December, Amazon won approval from a local planning board in Worcester, Massachusetts, to convert the city's Greendale Mall into a 121,000-square foot distribution center. In total, Amazon purchased 25 shopping centers between 2016 and 2019, according to a report by Coresight Research.
“The reality is that the cash flow at these lower-quality malls is declining rapidly,” Vince Tibone, lead retail and industrial analyst at the real estate analytics firm Green Street, told NBC News. “You have to decide, ‘Do I want to do something myself to invest a lot of money to transform this dead retail into thriving retail or put up offices?’ Selling a dead mall as land is a more attractive option.”
Half of mall-based department stores, the majority of which are lower-tier shopping centers that won't be able to afford mortgage payments, could permanently close by the end of the year, according to Green Street.
Brick-and-mortar retail has suffered tremendously as the coronavirus pandemic forced would-be shoppers to remain at home. By contrast, Amazon's sales have skyrocketed. With a net worth of $182 billion, CEO Jeff Bezos is currently the wealthiest man in the world, according to Forbes.
The e-tailer's online sales grew by 43% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of last year and increased square footage across its fulfillment and logistics network by 50% in 2020, according to an analysis Green Street shared with the Washington Examiner. The Seattle-based company opened eight brick-and-mortar AmazonFresh grocery stores in 2020, with plans for more to come, Green Street said.
Amazon, which has recently attracted scrutiny over reports of workers being forced to urinate in water bottles while on the clock, suffered an unfavorable ruling from a labor board on Monday. The National Labor Relations Board determined that the corporation illegally fired two of its employees who voiced concerns about the company.
Bezos has made overtures toward those accusing the corporation of profiteering, coming out in support of President Joe Biden's corporate tax plan, which would cut into Amazon's bottom line.
“We support the Biden Administration’s focus on making bold investments in American infrastructure,” Bezos said in a Tuesday statement. “Both Democrats and Republicans have supported infrastructure in the past, and it’s the right time to work together to make this happen.”
The multibillionaire was recently invited to attend an income inequality hearing by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Bezos declined, drawing condemnation from Sanders and others on the Left.
Representatives for Amazon and Coresight Research did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner‘s requests for comment.
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