Dutch Cities Ban 15-Minute Delivery Services

Amsterdam and Rotterdam have banned the “dark stores” while four other cities look to institute similar measures.
Yes I know this sign is in German and the article is about the Netherlands but wire services only have so many photos
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Six Dutch cities are either preparing to or have already instituted strict new regulations against ultrafast delivery services, a global urban phenomenon heavily backed by billions of dollars in venture capital that critics say add little to quality of life in urban areas while creating hundreds of “dark stores” in prime retail areas.

Last week, Amsterdam and Rotterdam instituted one-year freezes on any more dark stores from the likes of Gorillas, Getir, Flink, Zapp, and a number of other goofily-named startups that, according to reports, lose up to $150 per order.


"The business model of these companies is that they want to deliver groceries in 10 minutes. That means they need to be based in neighbourhoods. That's exactly the place where they also cause nuisance," Amsterdam deputy mayor Marieke van Doornick told Reuters.

The main complaint with these services is that they turn local storefronts into small warehouses, paper over the windows, and create small but locally meaningful delivery operations in residential areas. An increasing number of residents and local politicians believe this is not a good use of such spaces and, if allowed to proliferate, will detract from the whole point of urban living. 

Following Amsterdam and Rotterdam’s freezes, other Dutch cities are considering similar measures to regulate the services. The Hague, Groningen, Arnhem, and Amstelveen are looking into banning new dark stores in certain districts where most of the complaints come from, according to Dutch news outlet NRC. Nine of the 23 municipalities NRC surveyed said they regularly receive complaints from residents about the ultrafast delivery services. The news outlet expects more cities to institute regulations in the coming months.

Reuters compared the regulation push with the early days of Uber and Airbnb, which also rapidly expanded to cities around the world with services of broad socioeconomic consequences that altered city life. While that comparison is valid, another might be the dockless bike craze that swept cities around 2017 thanks to a huge injection of venture capital, lost billions of dollars in a few short months, and fizzled out. Which of the two paths ultrafast delivery ends up following will in no small part depend on how many dark stores cities are willing to put up with.