Online retailer Amazon.com, which so far has weathered the recession better than its peers, is closing order-fulfillment centers in Indiana, Nevada and Pennsylvania, a possible sign that one of the few bright spots in the US retail sector is adopting a more-cautious economic outlook.
Spokeswoman Patty Smith said the three distribution centers will close by the end of May, affecting 210 employees. All told, Amazon is shuttering 805,000 square feet of distribution space, or roughly 7 per cent of its North American total.
Amazon said the closures in Munster, Indiana, Red Rock, Nevada, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, are part of a reorganisation of its fulfillment network - moving capacity to larger warehouses that can ''better balance product mix and customer orders.''
This year, Amazon plans to add about 300,000 square feet of space to a distribution center in Arizona, where it will focus on fulfilling orders in the Western US for large items, such as patio furniture, flat-screen TVs and barbecue grills.
Rather than characterize the closures as a sign of the economic downturn, Smith suggested that Amazon's expansion in Arizona made the 330,000-square-foot Red Rock center, which specializes in the same types of orders, no longer necessary. She also noted that Amazon will still have three distribution centers in Pennsylvania, two in Indiana and one in Nevada.
The two in Indiana opened last year.