When you consider its fundamentals, most retail is simply a distribution center providing goods and services to individuals. Consumers enter the retail facility or drive-thru line, obtain their good or service, and return to home or work.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce and innovation has changed the way retail goods and services are distributed to consumers. Uber Eats, Favor, Door Dash, HEB Curbside, Target Drive-up and myriad other examples showed that Americans wanted their products on demand more so than ever.
Now that consumers are confined to their homes, the use of these services is not a convenience but often a necessity. Although there is no way to predict how consumer preferences will change in response to a global pandemic, we do know that, according to Eccie Newton of Karma Kitchens in the Bisnow article, “a lot of people who have never used delivery will be introduced to it for the first time, and I think they will continue to use it.”
As the delivery and curbside trend accelerates into a new norm, retailers will continue to operate as (and potentially resemble) distribution centers for their customers. Like Karma Kitchens in London, this could result in a hybridization of retail and industrial/flex as retailers evolve into their own last-mile distributors.