Amazon Books store
Source: Amazon

Amazon to Close 68 Brick-and-Mortar Stores — Grocery Stores Aren't Impacted

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Mar. 3 2022, Published 1:49 p.m. ET

After Amazon started in 1995 as an online bookseller, it eventually drove many brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business. Then the online retail giant opened its own brick-and-mortar bookstores, but the venture never had much success. Why is Amazon closing stores?

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On March 2, Amazon announced that it will close its 68 brick-and-mortar bookstores, Pop-Up, and 4-Star stores due to poor revenue growth, Reuters reports. Sales at the company’s physical stores only account for 3 percent of Amazon’s reported $137 billion in sales, most of which comes from its Whole Foods grocery store locations.

amazon pop up
Source: Amazon
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What happened to Amazon bookstores?

Amazon opened its first physical bookstore, Amazon Books, in Seattle on November 2, 2015. When the store opened its doors, a spokesperson for Amazon Books told The Seattle Times, “Our goal is to do a great job selling lots of books.”

A second location opened a year later in San Diego. A Seattle mall owner told The Wall Street Journal in 2016 that Amazon planned to build 400 of the bookstore locations but then he backtracked on that statement.

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The company abandoned plans to open several bookstores in 2018. According to a 2018 GeekWire article, permit records revealed that Amazon didn’t follow through with plans to build bookstores in Georgia, Colorado, and Idaho. At the time, Amazon officials said they “remain excited” about the bookstores and “continue to look for new locations,” GeekWire reported.

Currently, there are 24 Amazon Books stores around the country. There are seven locations in California and other stores in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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What happened to Amazon pop-up stores?

Amazon’s Pop-Up retail storefronts also never got off the ground as the company expected. Insider reported in 2016 that Amazon planned to open 100 pop-up stores in shopping malls across the U.S. Amazon Pop-Up shops are mainly mall kiosks that showcase the company’s electronic devices like the Kindle, Fire, and Echo.

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However, in 2019, Amazon closed dozens of the Pop-Up stores, The New York Times reported. In a statement to the Times, an Amazon spokeswoman said the company decided to discontinue the Pop-Up kiosk program and instead expand Amazon Books and Amazon 4-Star, “where we provide a more comprehensive customer experience and broader selection.”

What happened to Amazon 4-Star stores?

Only nine Pop-Up locations remain in the U.S. Amazon operates far more Amazon 4-Star locations, which it also plans to close. Currently, there are about 33 4-Star locations and 16 locations that are listed as “coming soon” on the Amazon website. Launched in 2018, Amazon 4-Star stores sell new and trending products rated four stars and above on Amazon.com.

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Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh locations are not included in the closures.

The announced closures don’t impact Amazon’s grocery stores, Whole Foods, or Amazon Fresh. In a statement to The New York Times, Amazon spokeswoman Betsy Harden said the company will “focus more on our Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go and Amazon Style stores and our Just Walk Out technology.”

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“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,” Harden told the Times.

Employees at the stores slated for closure will be offered other positions within the company or given a severance, Reuters reports.

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