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Amazon E-commerce

Amazon’s Space Race: Delivery Hubs Near Cities, Airports Propel Warehouse Growth

Back in mid-2019, before the pandemic turned the world on its head, Amazon’s U.S. distribution network took up about the same amount of space as seven Disneylands, including hotels, the Downtown Disney District and the California Adventure Park. In just two years since then, Amazon has added another six Disneylands’ worth of real estate to its sprawling logistics empire, nearly doubling its physical footprint in the U.S. amid the global coronavirus crisis.

Beyond the eye-popping growth in overall square footage, the details of Amazon’s physical expansion, presented in the chart above, show how dramatically the composition of its distribution network has changed. While its fulfillment centers—cavernous warehouses mostly located in the suburbs—accounted for roughly 80% of Amazon’s U.S. distribution network two years ago, they represent just 62% of the square footage in that network now, according to The Information’s analysis of data from MWPVL International, a logistics consulting firm that tracks Amazon.

The reason for the decline is an explosion in the number of delivery stations, smaller Amazon warehouse facilities that tend to be closer to major population centers and are essential to key Amazon initiatives like same-day shipping. Delivery stations made up around 6% of Amazon’s physical footprint in the U.S. two years ago and now represent about 23% of it, according to MWPVL.

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