That depressing, empty Sears or JC Penney at your local shopping mall? Amazon may soon turn it into a fulfillment center. Simon Property Group Inc., the largest mall owner in the US, is in talks with the online retailer on the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports. If the deal goes through, some of the abandoned department stores could be turned into Amazon distribution hubs, sources say; both Sears and JC Penney have declared bankruptcy and have been closing dozens of stores. Some US malls have already rented parking lot space to Amazon to use for its delivery fleet, and Amazon has even purchased entire failed malls and converted them to warehouses.
Malls have been struggling for years, thanks in part to Amazon itself as well as other online shopping sites, but the coronavirus pandemic has made the struggle even worse. TechCrunch notes that malls have been looking to almost any avenue to bring in revenue, including using spaces to house schools, medical facilities, or senior living facilities. Amazon, on the other hand, is doing great amid the pandemic, and is working to increase its distribution centers in order to speed up its last-mile delivery efforts. Bloomberg notes, however, these talks have been going on since before the pandemic. Another possibility: Amazon is also considering putting some of its planned grocery stores into abandoned JC Penney stores. (More Amazon stories.)