Online holiday package tsunami swamping U.S. apartment buildings

Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:10pm EST
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By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the holiday shopping season peaks, U.S. apartment complexes are being flooded with packages, from HD televisions to children's scooters, inundating lobbies and forcing building managers to take measures to extremes.

With online shopping expected to reach a record this year, overwhelmed property managers are starting to put a cap on the size of the boxes they will accept, installing storage lockers or banning deliveries outright.

Online purchases have spiked during this holiday season, with Americans buying $3.07 billion of goods on "Cyber Monday," the first workday after the Thanksgiving holiday, a 16 percent increase year on year, according to the Adobe Digital Index Report.

The Boston House, a 1950s-era apartment building in Washington that saw package deliveries grow from a couple of dozen to hundreds a week in a few years, has limited the size of boxes, said Liz Cullison, the building's general manager.

"The packages got larger and larger and larger," Cullison said. "That all overflowed out into the lobby. Now the lobby is overrun with packages."

Apartment buildings and complexes, home to about one in eight Americans, are being buffeted by the surge in online U.S. retail sales, which rose on an adjusted basis to $87.5 billion in the third quarter, up 15 percent from a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department.

Apartment managers "are looking at the future, and they are only seeing more packages," said Rick Haughey, vice president of industry technology initiatives at the National Multifamily Housing Council, an industry group.

"You've got old systems in place that don't really reflect the structural changes that we've seen in retail," he said.   Continued...