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Ultra-fast grocery delivery is changing city centres

Assif Shameen
Assif Shameen1/6/2022 10:36 PM GMT+08  • 10 min read
Ultra-fast grocery delivery is changing city centres
Catering to a growing army of online shoppers is now seen as the key to the future of the cities.
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For years, we have heard about a looming retail apocalypse as more people shunned malls and retail stores for the convenience of online shopping. Urban planners wondered what would happen to our city centres as less trafficked retail areas became ghost stores and ghost malls. Two years after the Covid-19 pandemic began, North Americans and Europeans are seeing the first signs of what cities of the future will look like.

If you have walked around New York City, Chicago or San Francisco over the past year or so you have probably seen the carnage. Abandoned stores and restaurants all boarded up or store fronts papered over. More recently though there have been some signs of green shoots in North American city centres. Whole rows of old stores are being converted to mini fulfilment centres, ghost kitchens and dark stores to cater to a booming e-commerce business.

Catering to a growing army of online shoppers is now seen as the key to the future of the cities. E-commerce now accounts for 14% of total US retail sales with Amazon making up just under half of US online sales. Before the pandemic, almost 9% of US restaurant sales were through food delivery apps. During the pandemic lockdowns, most restaurants only delivered through food delivery apps or did kerbside pick-ups. Post-pandemic sales through delivery apps has stayed steady at just under 30% of restaurants’ total sales.

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