When we think about the apartment building amenities that tend to attract tenants, some natural ideas come to mind -- playgrounds for children, swimming pools in areas where the weather is warm year-round, and on-site fitness centers for the health-conscious. But in the age of coronavirus, there's a new amenity tenants need that many buildings are sorely lacking -- storage room for packages.
Many consumers have shifted to online shopping during the pandemic, opting to have goods delivered rather than go out in public and risk exposure to a terrifying virus.
During the holiday season, this trend has been magnified. Shoppers spent a record-high $7.4 billion on online orders during Black Friday this year, reports Adobe Analytics. Meanwhile, Cyber Monday purchases rose nearly 20% from the previous year. Online shopping has boomed to such an extent that shipping companies are struggling to keep up. In fact, UPS (NYSE: UPS) recently had to instruct drivers to temporarily halt the collection of orders from popular retailers like Macy's (NYSE: M) and The Gap (NYSE: GPS).
All of this has caused a major issue for apartment buildings that don't have the capacity to store tenants' packages. Many buildings are already doing their best to maximize mailroom space to accommodate deliveries, but a large number are falling short. And that puts property managers and tenants alike in a sticky position as the holiday season forges on.
Creating new storage space
Buildings that lack storage space for packages can implement a few near-term solutions to accommodate the holiday rush. For one thing, property managers can look at converting existing spaces that are currently off limits into storage areas. Some buildings, for example, may have temporarily closed off access to gyms or indoor playrooms in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Those areas, while not in use, can accommodate a near-term influx of packages.
But what happens once the holidays end? Now that consumers have gotten into the habit of shopping online, buildings may see a continued uptick in package deliveries, especially since the pandemic is far from over. And while adapting other space may work temporarily, at some point, tenants are apt to want their amenities back.
Building managers should therefore seek to find ways to create storage space to suit tenants' needs. Also, a bit of rule-setting could go a long way. While there may be the expectation that buildings will store packages temporarily until tenants can retrieve them -- say, during the daytime hours, when many are away at work -- implementing stricter pickup rules could help avoid a storage crunch. Plus, many people are working from home these days, so the simple act of communicating to tenants that they should pick up their items right away could go a long way toward making the storage of packages less of an issue.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if building developers seek to include added storage in their plans going forward. Consumers may be eager to return to stores once it's safer to do so, but those who have now experienced the ease and convenience of shopping online may continue to do so well after the pandemic ends. It certainly wouldn't hurt apartment buildings to accommodate this.