Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Landlords start rejecting package delivery. What does this mean for city life?

It seems that apartment dwellers are facing down with landlords in the delivery wars. As Laura Kusisto writes in the Wall Street Journal ("Web-Shopping Deluge Boxes in Landlords", WSJ, 10/20/15), one of the nation's largest apartment operators has stopped accepting deliveries to avoid the complications of managing what have become mini-post offices in their buildings. However, not every landlord is scrapping package acceptance, and the article seems to suggest that the failure of a building to accept packages has a number of tenants riled up enough to move when their lease expires. Yet it is notable - and perhaps an inevitable outcome - that concerns of landlords are occurring at precisely the same time as people are buying more and more on-line.

So how might this trend impact our local commercial districts, particularly in urban areas where most of these apartment dwellers reside? Will limited package delivery encourage residents to purchase certain goods and services at brick-and-mortar stores? For certain specialty goods - the saved time, energy and cost might make the additional hassles of delivery worth it for the consumer. I might, for instance, choose to send a special package to my office and tote it home because finding that particular item in a store might take too much time. But for convenience goods, it is likely that the lack of delivery will have an impact. If you are now required to go to your local Fed Ex store (good luck getting there before it closes!) the inconvenience of that extra trip makes local shopping a little more worthwhile. These days time is money, and the availability and ease of on-line shopping has increasingly made it a viable alternative to the brick-and-mortar store. But if landlords start making delivery hard, the pendulum might just start swinging back in the other direction.

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