Amazon to Close Physical Bookstores, Focus on Groceries

Shifting its focus to the groceries businesses and new retail concepts, Amazon is planning to shut all 68 of its physical bookstores, Amazon 4-star, and Pop up stores across the US and UK.

The e-commerce giant started its business as an online bookstore with the first permanent brick and mortar outlet opening in 2015 in Seattle. Since then, the company has increased its bookstore network across the US to 24. Meanwhile, the Amazon 4-star concept was introduced in 2018 with a focus on selling general merchandise rated higher than four stars by its customers. 

“Amazon’s decision to shutter many of the physical concepts it has opened over the past few years comes as a surprise – not least because a handful of outlets have only recently opened,” observed Neil Saunders, MD of GlobalData. 

“Nevertheless, the company has concluded that they are not delivering the returns – monetarily or in terms of what they are doing for the wider company – to justify keeping them open. The cost base of the stores is reasonably high because most are located in premium malls where rental costs are high.”

Amazon said it will remain focused on Whole Foods Markets and Amazon Fresh stores, and its cashier-less grocery model while working on other retail concepts. The move follows the company’s introduction of Amazon Style, its first physical apparel store in Los Angeles, last month.