Amazon.com said Wednesday that it plans to close all 68 bookstores, kiosks, toy and home goods stores in the US and UK, ending some of its longest-running retail experiences.
The news, initially reported by Reuters, marked a turning point for the company that started as an online bookstore and helped push well-known competitors like Borders out of business. Amazon said it will focus more on grocery stores and the department store concept in the future.
After opening its first bookstore in 2015, Amazon tested a range of retail ideas: cashless convenience stores, supermarkets, and a so-called “4 star” format that sells toys, household items, and other highly rated goods to customers.
Amazon aims to reach shoppers in more places and bring their online touch to the real world. The company’s bookstores pulled data from its huge collection and showed what people were reading, even the reviews they left on Amazon’s website.
But the innovations were not enough to stop the march towards online shopping that Amazon itself launched. The company’s revenue from the “physical store” — just 3% of Amazon’s $137 billion in sales last quarter, a significant reversal of consumer spending at its Whole Foods subsidiary — has often failed to keep pace with growth in the retailer’s other businesses.
Amazon will close its operations, kiosks and 4-star bookstores on various dates and will notify customers. The company said workers will receive severance pay or help find jobs at any of the company’s nearby stores, such as more than a dozen Amazon Fresh grocery stores.
Amazon has not specified how many jobs will be cut.
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