- Amazon is closing all of its 4-star, Books and Pop Up stores, a spokesperson for the company confirmed in an email to Retail Dive. The company will focus instead on its Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go, Amazon Style stores and Just Walk Out technology.
- The company is working with impacted employees to identify new roles within Amazon, including placement in other stores. Employees who choose to leave the company will be given severance.
- "We remain committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies," a spokesperson for the company said.
Amazon is shifting its brick-and-mortar focus.
The company's first physical location opened in 2015 with a book store in its hometown of Seattle, Washington.
It went on to open its 4-star concept, where everything for sale was rated 4 stars or better, in September 2018. It carried a variety of items including games, kitchen appliances and electronics. While stores were open to all customers, Prime members were able to purchase items listed for what it was listed for on Amazon's website.
The e-commerce giant also introduced its Pop Up stores, which featured a rotating experience of themes and brands.
Now all those locations are set to shutter so focus can shift to its grocery and fashion ventures.
Two big advancements in those arenas happened recently, with Amazon opening its first Whole Foods Market with cashierless technology in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Glover Park in February. The month prior the company launched its first physical clothing store, dubbed Amazon Style, which features women's and men's apparel, shoes and accessories and utilizes technology to merge online and offline operations.
Amazon's decision to close these physical stores comes as a surprise, according to GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders, who added that while the company's non-food stores had great standards, they "lacked a real purpose."
"While it is unusual for most retailers to abandon concepts in a wholesale fashion — especially outside of bankruptcy — Amazon is not a typical retailer," Saunders said in emailed comments. "It tries and tests ... new things, often committing reasonable levels of investment, only to move on if it doesn't see forward potential."