17 August 2015 #Commercial Real Estate
It was recently announced that Amazon are proposing to test a new drive-through grocery store concept in the USA. The venture would possibly be an extension of Amazon Fresh which delivers groceries to restaurants and individuals on a same day order to door basis.
It is certainly not a new idea. In the UK the major supermarkets have all realised that their online customers are becoming increasingly frustrated by having to be available and at home during specific delivery times. The concept is that customers can order online and then pick up their order at a time that suits them and they do not even need to get out of their car as the items are loaded into your vehicle at the pick-up points.
Out of the UK supermarkets Tesco seem to lead the way and now have over 150 stores with a drive-through grocery collection option.
What are the main legal and property issues when considering click and collect and drive-through operations?
ASDA when trialling drive-through operations soon realised that in many cases they needed to obtain planning consent to their proposed drive-through collection points. This can be both a costly and time consuming process. It could also be possible that such proposals will be received negatively by local residents and the Local Authority due to the potential for increased traffic congestion, pollution and disruption.
If the store is held by way of a lease then it is likely that the landlord’s consent will be required for the proposed works. This will require detailed plans and specifications as well as additional delays, legal and other costs.
Other lease considerations
Any occupational lease would also need to be checked to see if there is anything that may prevent the proposal, such as a requirement for a minimum number of car spaces or a restriction on works outside of the main store building or a requirement to comply with landlord’s regulations that could relate to traffic flow or use of external areas.
Title and other restrictions
The registered title would need to be checked to see if there are any restrictive covenants or rights preventing the proposed works or use of the proposed pick-up areas. It would also be prudent to check there are no wayleaves or other utilities running under or in relation to the areas in question.
Disruption to business
To accommodate the grocery pick-ups it may be that the car parking will need to be reconfigured. This could mean that spaces for the visitors to the store are reduced and the works required may also cause disruption to the business, including store deliveries, customer access and general decline in customer satisfaction.
The increased investment by the major retailers in more convenient ways to shop seems to indicate that many more drive-through and click and collect operations will be available to the consumer in the years to come.