Who would have guessed that when Amazon opened its first fulfillment center in 1997, it would be the beginning of a full-blown warehousing empire? Today, the Seattle-based e-tailer—which itself has morphed from a simple bookseller into a purveyor of, well, just about everything—operates hundreds of warehouses across the U.S. that collectively total approximately 319 million square feet of space, according to a report from Big Rentz, an online construction-equipment rental network.
The retailer’s reach is so great that as of 2021, there were only five states (Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) that lacked a large-scale Amazon warehouse, Big Rentz said. It noted, however, that while those states may not have a full-sized DC within their borders, Amazon nonetheless has a smaller presence in each state. At the other end of the scale, the state with the most Amazon warehouses is California, which had 35 current or planned facilities as of 2021.
These aren’t small-time operations. The average fulfillment center has a footprint of about 800,000 square feet, nearly the size of the 830,000-square-foot Buckingham Palace, the report said. And some run much bigger than that. For example, the biggest single Amazon DC as of September 2021 was a former General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware, coming in at 3.8 million square feet, Big Rentz said. The facility has a footprint of just 640,000 square feet but rises five stories high, giving it enough space to fit 66.6 football fields inside. Within those walls, the plant hosts about 3,500 workers and 40,000 robots that collaborate to retrieve, inventory, and store merchandise, the report said.