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Real estate impacted by robots putting retailers out of work

Redbox has effectively put Blockbuster out of business and more automation is on the way. As retailers are losing their jobs and becoming automated, less space is needed, threatening the commercial real estate space in a major way.

Although Blockbuster going under was hard to sympathize with as they put many mom & pop video rental stores and chains out of business, it is still necessary to watch as technology replaces retail not only for the commercial space which is impacted but for residential agents who know well that nearby abandoned shopping centers are a detractor for buyers.

According to the LA Times, “Retail employment has barely budged over the last year despite stronger sales at major chains. Meanwhile, $740 billion was transacted through self-service machines in 2010, up 9% from 2009, said Greg Buzek, president of technology research firm IHL Group of Franklin, Tenn. He projects that will rise to $1.1 trillion by 2014.”

As automated machines increase in popularity and become commonplace, the impact will ripple across retail first, then commercial real estate and ultimately residential real estate.


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The LA Times continued, “Vending machines now sell iPods, bathing suits, gold coins, sunglasses and razors; some will even dispense prescription drugs and medical marijuana to consumers willing to submit to a fingerprint scan. And shoppers are finding information on touch screen kiosks, rather than talking to attendants.

Corona vending machine firm AVT Inc. is designing a fully automated gas station that will dispense gasoline, snacks, bottled drinks, even hot coffee with the swipe of a credit card — and not a single clerk. Some motorists may not like the concept; after all, these stations won’t have bathrooms. But AVT is betting that some filling station owners will love it. AVT’s smart vending machines don’t demand paychecks, call in sick or give incorrect change. They work 24 hours a day and give instant feedback on sales and inventory.

Some of the company’s kiosks look more like automated retail stores than traditional vending machines. What they sell is different too. Merchandise includes high-end electronics and cosmetics, available 24 hours a day in locations such as airports and hotels. The displays cost a fraction of brick-and-mortar stores. They also reflect changing consumer buying habits. Online shopping has made Americans comfortable with the idea of buying all manner of products without the help of a salesman or clerk; ATMs and electronic ticketing have reinforced the desire for instant gratification.

“We want things when we want them, how we want them, and we want them now,” AVT’s Arcement said.”

What do you think of the automated trend? Will it stick? If so, what impact on your market will it have?

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  1. Steve Scott via Facebook

    March 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I think and I may be wrong but didn’t Netflix play a bigger role in the demise of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video which by the way had the chance to compete online but refused to see the light?

  2. Perla Diaz via Facebook

    March 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Steve, I totally I agree with you on this there luck of thinking outside the box

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