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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

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.