Amazon will permanently close 68 physical retail locations, including all of its Amazon 4-star, Books, and Pop Up stores, in a surprising twist for the tech giant’s bricks-and-mortar ambitions.
The Seattle-based company said Wednesday morning that it plans to focus more on its Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market and Amazon Go grocery and convenience stores, in addition to the underlying Just Walk Out technology that enables a checkout-free experience at Amazon stores and other locations.
Another ongoing focus will be Amazon Style, a new line of fashion stores, which was announced last month.
“We remain committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies, and we’re working closely with our affected employees to help them find new roles within Amazon,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Amazon’s physical store sales were up 17% year-over-year in the most recent quarter, to $4.6 billion, making up 3.3% of the company’s overall sales, as in-store sales bounced back from the depths of the pandemic.
Quarterly physical store sales have plateaued in the range of $4 billion for the past several years, not showing the type of growth that Amazon is accustomed to seeing in other parts of its business.
Amazon opened its first Amazon Books store in Seattle’s University Village in November 2015.
The company hired former Tesco executive Tony Hoggett in January as senior vice president of physical stores.
Several key physical retail executives have left Amazon in recent years.
- Amazon veteran Cameron Janes, a vice president who oversaw the development and operations of the company’s physical retail stores, departed in November and is now an executive at REI Co-op.
- Steve Kessel, a longtime Amazon executive who most recently oversaw the expansion into bricks-and-mortar retail, left in early 2020.
- Jennifer Cast, the former vice president in charge of Amazon Books, left the company in 2020.
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