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Retail Bogeyman Amazon Is Now A Coveted Tenant For Mall Landlords

Amazon Go in Seattle
Amazon Go in Seattle

Amazon's rise to power coincided with years of challenges for mall landlord owners, but it may become a solution in time.

The e-commerce giant is entering the world of brick-and-mortar retail on multiple fronts, and its brand carries a level of cachet that makes it a desirable mall tenant, The Wall Street Journal reports. An executive with brokerage and consulting firm Newmark Knight Frank told the WSJ Amazon's potential as an anchor-level draw for customers is comparable to the Apple Store.

Not only does Amazon have nearly unmatched name recognition, it has multiple concepts that could take different footprints within a shopping center. Its planned expansion of Whole Foods has already been connected with locations vacated by Sears, providing a neat metaphor for how retail has changed in the past decade.

Amazon also has a massive expansion planned for its cashierless convenience store Amazon Go and is moving forward on its Amazon 4-Star concept of a store with inventory based on customer reviews and data about the local customer base. Landlords and the retail industry at large have been throwing themselves into data collection as a way to tailor their offerings more accurately to the surrounding area, and they view Amazon as a dominant force in data, according to the WSJ.

Amazon has had a presence in malls since 2015 with its pop-up stores, of which it now has 80 locations nationwide, and Amazon Books has 22 locations in 18 states, the WSJ reports. Combined with the recently announced plans for a new grocery store brand separate from Whole Foods, Amazon now presents a wealth of options for shopping center landlords like Federal Realty Investment Trust.

“The idea of more demand from [Amazon] is a huge positive for me,” FRIT CEO Don Wood said at a Florida conference this week, according to the WSJ.