Amazon is closing more than 50 of its brick-and-mortar stores, including two dozen bookstores and more than 30 Amazon 4-Star stores that sell general merchandise, the company said Wednesday.
The company’s more than 500 Whole Foods Market stores and two dozen Amazon Fresh supermarkets will remain open.
The company plans to “focus more on our Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go and Amazon Style stores and our Just Walk Out technology,” Betsy Harden, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement. statement. “We remain committed to building great, long-lasting brick-and-mortar shopping experiences and technologies, and we’re working closely with our impacted employees to help them find new roles within Amazon.”
The move is dropping companies that have failed to get a grip on the internet giant, which has spent years trying to compete in brick-and-mortar retail without finding a breakthrough.
Company records show that sales in physical stores have declined. In 2018, the first full year after Amazon bought Whole Foods, the brick-and-mortar stores had sales of more than $17.2 billion. Last year, that dropped to below $17.1 billion. (These figures do not include online sales for grocery delivery and pickup.) The company doubled its total sales over the same period.
Amazon has been playing with brick and mortar stores since it opened its first bookstore in its hometown of Seattle in 2015. At the time, rumors of the company setting up its own shop caused reporters to rush to dig up blueprints. Over time, Amazon opened bookstores in 13 states.
Amazon announced another experiment, Amazon 4-Star Stores, in 2018. They housed a strange medley of products that were well-reviewed on the company’s website. “This store is treating commerce like a tornado,” wrote a DailyExpertNews writer, describing a store in SoHo that opened in 2018.
The closures, previously reported by Reuters, included a few remaining Pop-Up kiosks, small shopping centers that Amazon had cut back significantly in 2019.
Despite its e-commerce success, Amazon continues to experiment with new types of brick and mortar stores. It has opened about two dozen checkout-free Amazon Go stores, which are largely small convenience stores in cities, and recently added that checkout-less technology to a Whole Foods store. In just a few years, Amazon has also opened a new line of Amazon Fresh stores that sell conventional grocery items, such as Coca-Cola, which Whole Foods doesn’t stock.
In January, Amazon announced its first clothing retailer, Amazon Style, which will test whether customers opt for a tech-driven shopping experience, such as using an app to request items to a locker room.