Barcelona Bans Dark Stores in Blow to Q-Commerce 

Barcelona delivery bikes

Barcelona is banning dark stores in a blow to the city’s quick commerce sector.

As reported by Reuters on Friday (Jan. 27), city hall approved a total ban on urban distribution hubs that have become synonymous with speedy delivery firms like Glovo and Getir.

According to Reuters, the council cited a need to “preserve neighborhood stores and residents’ quality of life,” as impetus for the ban, arguing that dark stores’ activities were causing excessive disturbance to communities.

Barcelona is not the first European city to clamp down on dark stores. In the Netherlands, both Amsterdam and Rotterdam initially imposed a moratorium on the opening of any new dark stores in February 2022.

In the face of resistance from municipal governments, Flink, Getir, Gorillas and Zapp signed a joint code of conduct promising not to open locations in central shopping streets, pedestrian zones or near schools, and to limit the speed of their delivery drivers to 25 kilometers per hour, NL Times reported.

Since then, Zapp has withdrawn completely from the Dutch market while Getir has moved to acquire its rival Gorillas.

Meanwhile, in Paris, the city council has used its planning powers to restrict the opening of new dark stores in built-up areas. In fact, in cities across Europe, councils have used what powers they have to push dark stores out of city centers and into out-of-town industrial and commercial parks.

Council crackdowns on dark stores coincide with significant growing pains for the European quick commerce sector.

Beyond the aforementioned withdrawal of Zapp from the Netherlands and the consolidation of two of the continent’s biggest players in Getir and Gorillas, GoPuff has also dialed down its European ambitions.

Having initially set its sights on the Spanish market, in August the U.S. company decided to pull out of the mainland Europe market in order to focus its efforts on the U.K.

As PYMNTS has reported, “London is one of the big prizes for Q-commerce globally, and compared to Spain, the U.K.’s employment law is more accommodating to the gig economy model favored by the likes of Gopuff.”

For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter.