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Staff of Leshop.ch assemble grocery orders from shelves at a warehouse in Ecublens near Lausanne September 30, 2011.
Staff of Leshop.ch assemble grocery orders from shelves at a warehouse in Ecublens near Lausanne September 30, 2011.
(Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

Big box, meet dark store: U.K. goes online for groceries

The “dark store” has arrived and it could spell the death knell for the big box. After a difficult year and a punishing Christmas, big grocers are looking at their properties and some are coming to the nail-biting conclusion that acres of glitzy, over-lit and over-managed retail property may be a waste of space. The solution is the dark store, a simulacrum of a supermarket with aisles, shelves and freezer cabinets – but instead of meandering shoppers, a platoon of staff navigate the aisles, picking groceries for delivery to online customers.