Amazon giveth, and Amazon taketh.
The giant internet retailer said on April 27 that it will create 2,000 full-time jobs by opening two more fulfillment centers in New Jersey.
One will be a 600,000-square-foot facility in Florence, Burlington County, generating 500 new jobs.
The other will be an 800,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Carteret, Middlesex County, that will generate about 1,500 jobs.
Together, the two facilities will bring Amazon's total physical footprint in the Garden State to 2.5 million square feet of space, if you count three existing centers.
The irony is that Amazon made the announcement the day after a news report that retailers were prepping to lay off 37,000 workers this year, due largely to the shuttering of brick-and-mortar stores.
The 37,000 is the most in one year since the 2008 recession - and more than double the number of layoffs in 2015.
Online shopping is the cause, led by Amazon.com.
E-commerce sales nationally - which included catalog sales - were up 14.6 percent in 2015 from the previous year, while retail sales for physical stores rose by a fraction of that - just 1.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Moody's senior retail analyst Charles O'Shea said: "We expect more square footage reductions going forward as online sales are growing faster than brick-and-mortar for virtually all non-food retailers."
Some observers say the retail layoffs signify the industry's realignment.
Surely, some of those losing their jobs in "real stores" will be hired to do something else, such as filling carts with online orders at an Amazon fulfillment center versus restocking shelves.
Mike Roth, Amazon's vice president of North America operations, said the new Carteret facility "will offer wages 30 percent higher than traditional retail stores and include benefits, bonuses, and stock options."
Amazon employs more than 5,500 full-time workers in the state. The two new centers will boost that to 7,500.
"Amazon has played a key role in the structural shift away from brick-and-mortar retail, and it may lay waste to many other retailers in the years to come," Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy, who covers the online juggernaut, said in an October 2015 analysis. "Without the cost burden of physical stores, Amazon can price below traditional rivals and drive recurring traffic online.
"Even with more retailers moving sales online," Hottovy added, "we believe Amazon will maintain its consumer proposition through other means, including the convenience of Amazon Prime's expedited shipping and expanding digital-content library."
Over 21 years, the retailer has built a global network of 285 million active users with investments in fulfillment centers, technology, and content.
In July 2015, it surpassed Walmart in market capitalization to become the nation's most valuable retailer.
Amazon "is likely to remain a disruptive force in retail, digital media, and enterprise software," Hottovy wrote.
For politicians, a job is a job, no matter online or on land.
"Amazon is doubling down its investment in New Jersey," bragged Kim Guadagno, New Jersey's lieutenant governor.
State Sen. Diane Allen (R., Burlington), whose district includes the proposed Florence center, was also excited. "With easy access to major highways, a skilled workforce, and room to grow, companies like Amazon, BJ's, and Burlington Coat Factory have made a smart choice to pick Florence to site important operations," she said.
It benefits Amazon, too.
Hottovy said Amazon's lower cost in maintaining a fulfillment and distribution network, as opposed to having a large physical retail presence, allows the company to price below its brick-and-mortar competitors while still generating excess economic returns.
For 2015, Amazon reported $107 billion in revenue, compared with $88.99 billion in 2014. This represents a 26 percent growth, compared with 20 percent it achieved in 2014.
Also, customers in about half the states are now paying a sales tax on online purchases. Still, Amazon's sales tax burden is far less than other national retailers that have much larger physical footprints. This allows Amazon to generate stronger cash flow, which, in turn, can be reinvested in advertising, customer service, website enhancements - and, of course, fulfillment centers.
Amazon made its first shipment from the Robbinsville center in July 2014. It has five such facilities in Pennsylvania and two in Delaware.
Mitch Banin, 57, who co-owns Banin's Auto in Trevose, which sells auto parts, buys some inventory from Amazon.com: "Stuff we can't get locally, and we need fast," he said recently. "For example, I ordered 100 plastic rivets last week and they arrived the next day. As far as convenience and selection, you can't beat it."
"But there's another side to that, too," Banin said. "It's put a lot of retailers out of work."
Amazon.com recently announced plans to open two more New Jersey centers, in Carteret and Florence.
Centers already in this area: