Big box retailers, which are usually defined as retailers with a 100,000-square-foot location or larger, have been criticized for a litany of ills. Kristin Lovejoy, working through the University of California at Davis' Institute of Transportation Studies, found a benefit rarely mentioned. Consumers who shop at big box retailers drive fewer miles. Emily Badger makes the money conclusion:
The frequency of shopping trips to downtown Davis didn’t change much, suggesting the new Target was siphoning more business from far-flung big boxes than local downtown stores.
While there is something to be said for reducing congestion and vehicle-related pollution from people driving farther away for the same shopping experience, one issue remains. What do you do with an empty big box (i.e., a really large plain vanilla shell)? Until this issue is reduced, the big box retailers' negative will outweigh the positives.