Nov 28, 2018

Big-box stores are shrinking — and moving to the city

Ikea furniture on display in Paris. Photo: Julien Mattia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Millennials aren't the only ones ditching the suburbs for the cities. Some iconic retailers — fighting to stay relevant as Amazon looms — are downsizing and shifting to city centers.

The big picture: As the density of the world's biggest cities keeps increasing, hopping in a car to drive out to a big-box suburban store 8 or 10 miles away is becoming a thing of the past.

Driving the news: Ikea has plans to open 30 smaller stores in big cities, AP reports. At 54,000 square feet, these are about one-quarter the size of a mall anchor like Macy's.

"Many people are still prepared to drive to big Ikea stores. But with growing choice online and improvements in delivery options, increasing numbers of people are becoming more reluctant to travel when they can shop online."
Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail

Ikea is not alone.

  • Target has done the same, building a handful of mini-stores right next to college campuses.
  • And Walmart's new, futuristic Sam's Club Now — half the size regular Sam's Club stores and outfitted with cashierless checkout — opened in Dallas earlier this month.

But, but, but: "I don't see this as a revolution," says Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. The big stores in suburbs will survive, but at the same time, smaller urban locations will pop up to give shoppers choice.

What to watch: Amazon is once again leading the pack.

  • The e-commerce giant has built 18 bookstores across the country.
  • Now, it's carving a place in grocery with Amazon Go locations in major cities, in addition to its purchase of Whole Foods.
  • And the 4-Star store, Amazon's latest venture, which only sells products that have received 4-star or higher reviews online, offers everything from coffeemakers to toys to TVs.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

Trumpworld's plan to brand Biden

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/AFP

Trump's advisers relish the contrast between his public appearances and Joe Biden's lack thereof. The former vice president, following the guidance of public experts, has eschewed public events and stayed home for months now. Trump, meanwhile, is out and about — masks be damned.

What we're hearing: Watch for plenty more mask-free outings from Trump, hyping the reopening of the economy and avoiding discussions of social distancing and death counts.