Amazon is reportedly in talks to buy up shuttered JC Penney and Sears department stores across the US and convert them into fulfilment centres.
Simon Property Group, one of the US’ largest mall operators, is in talks with the ecommerce giant regarding the sale of what was once prime retail space, according to The Wallstreet Journal.
While the number of stores under negotiation is unclear, the pair are understood to have been working on a deal for months and began talks before the pandemic hit.
According to sources Amazon could also buy up space still being used by the pair of embattled department stores.
It was also suggested that Amazon is in talks with other mall owners regarding former JC Penney stores with a view to using the space for its upcoming grocery project.
In May JC Penney, which has been trading for 118 years, announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and offload 30 per cent of its store estate.
It planned to close some 242 stores over the next two years in May, reducing its store estate from 846 to 604 by fiscal year 2021.
Sears, which has been trading since 1880, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a last-ditch effort to continue trading in 2018, threatening 90,000 jobs.
It announced early last year that around 400 stores would continue trading, but has struggled to keep its head above water ever since.
While Amazon refuses to comment on speculation, the move would be in keeping with its aggressive push into physical retail seen over the past 18 months.