Small Screens Make for Better Cities

News out last week that big-box retailer Staples plans to reduce its square footage by 15 percent heralds a larger trend of smaller screens necessitating smaller boxes. Lydia DePillis examines why this will be a boon to cities.
October 1, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The growth of online shopping, or in the case of Staples, the obsolescence of whole product lines, are reducing the amount of items stores need to stock. And, as DePillis explains, "[t]he resulting smaller boxes can more easily be shoehorned into cities, where Supercenter-sized spaces are nearly impossible to find."

Cities will be the winners, as "smaller, more convenience-focused stores will fit better in urban spaces, fleshing out neighborhood corridors rather than forcing people to drive to faraway shopping centers," thus reducing the reliance on automobiles.   

"Big box retailers, then, are just adapting to survive in the new normal," says DePillis. "If cities demand decent design for those incoming superstores-with minimal surface parking, activated street fronts, and community gathering spaces-they'll keep people from going to the suburbs to shop, and send more traffic to nearby businesses that offer something unique." 

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Published on Thursday, September 27, 2012 in The New Republic
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