business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Boston Globe has a story about how, "in an ever-escalating race to get packages to your door faster, Amazon is opening shipping centers at a rapid clip in suburban towns all over Greater Boston — more rapidly, in fact, than those towns can figure out how to regulate them.

"Now some of those suburbs are joining forces, trying to devise a regional approach to managing traffic and other issues related to all these warehouses, and to make sense of a segment of the retail industry that has grown rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic and shows no signs of slowing."

Amazon's presence is significant:  20 warehouses in Massachusetts, 10 of them opened since January 2020, and 14 more in planning stages.  Before long, Amazon will have more than twelve million square feet of space just in Massachusetts.

"Even at its current size, neighbors say, traffic generated by the busy warehouse clogs nearby streets with hundreds of vehicles a day," the Globe writes.  "Residents are often roused from their sleep in the wee hours by the rumble of 16-wheelers. Some residents are pressuring the planning board to rein in Amazon’s expansion plans, and the project has been stalled for months as the debate continues."

The problem, the Globe points out, is that there is an inherent conflict - people don't want all the trucks, but they want fast deliveries.  These are the choices with which many towns and their residents will find themselves wrestling in coming months and years.

•  CNBC writes that "Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the No. 1 apparel retailer in the U.S. thanks in large part to the pandemic-fueled e-commerce boom, according to Wells Fargo research released Wednesday.

"Wells Fargo estimates that Amazon’s apparel and footwear sales in the U.S. grew by roughly 15% in 2020 to more than $41 billion, which is 20% to 25% above rival Walmart."

The story notes that "for years, Wall Street analysts have predicted Amazon will leapfrog Walmart to claim the top spot in the U.S. apparel market. Amazon found early success by offering a wide range of basics, but it has since expanded its fashion business. It now features a growing slate of name brands. The company also launched online luxury fashion shops last fall."