We are all familiar with the concept of Dark Kitchens - where restaurants as such move to windowless industrial estate premises to purely serve home-delivery orders. A number of those kitchens are a little like an office-share - where several companies operate out of the same premises and share some of the costs and resultant economies of scale.
The Dark Shop phenomenon is slightly different and is typified by High Street and Shopping Mall Stores like Lush - who have significant city and town centre retail premises - but no footfall because of current Coronavirus Lockdown restrictions.
The more sharp-minded stores have found new uses for their well-placed retail stores - deploying them rather as central distribution hubs within their core sales territories. So instead of the people coming to the store - the stores need to bring their products closer to the customers - in following the trend from Hight Street to Internet Shopping.
Using retail spaces as fulfilment centres and distribution hubs has increasingly become a thing for 2020 - in fact to such an extended that American company Fillogic model a big part of their business on taking over retail outlets - typically in malls, and converting those to local distribution hubs.
We’re all aware that Food Home Delivery has been huge in 2020, and this had driven the further adoption of Dark Kitchens which purely serve that function. The difference being that the Dark Kitchens are typically situated in relatively low-cost real-estate - versus the high-rate High Street stores currently being used in this new manner.
I’m not sure it’s sustainable as a long-term practice - as the lower rental rates current available will surely change back as societal circulation starts to increase again next year.
This is however a great example of the fluidity and flexibilty businesses need to operate within to make the most of the paradigm shift caused by Coronavirus and Lockdown.