The rise of “dark supermarkets”

It does at times, appear that the sun is setting on brick and mortar stores. 

The arrival of Amazon onto Australian shores and a growth in online shopping has put pressure on Australian retailers to re-think the way they distribute goods and services.

It is this pressure that has led to an increase in what is known as “dark supermarkets”, warehouses and distribution centres run by major supermarkets, that aren’t open to consumers.

It is increasingly becoming a vital avenue for major brands to accommodate consumer demand for quick and efficient delivery within a few hours of the initial, online purchase.

JLL property agent research manager Sass Liyanage said there was an ongoing structural transition in industrial demand.

“In Sydney, industrial take-up volumes have been well above the longer-term average over the past three years,” he said.

“This has underpinned strong rental growth across the Sydney industrial market. The challenge for many operators will be in securing infield distribution locations. Industrial supply has been pushed outward over the past three years.

“Consolidation mandates, coupled with the withdrawal of assets for alternate use, have reduced the stock of logistics assets in populated areas.”

Colliers International NSW director of retail leasing George Wragge said supermarkets would ramp up their online, click and collect and delivery options to remain competitive with Amazon.

“Retailers will be blending their usage and looking to engage in a more holistic offering,” Mr Wragge said.

“Landlords will be looking to increase value proposition through tech mediums and physical building to secure/retain tenants, while supermarkets will ramp up online, click collect and delivery to remain competitive with Amazon.

“The use of dark kitchens to facilitate the online demand is increasing in relevance and one that retail centre landlords need to be mindful of in order to remain relevant in an ever-increasing world of convenience-based online shopping.”

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