Amazon.com Inc. is closing eight cashierless Amazon Go locations in Seattle, New York and San Francisco, marking the e-commerce giant’s latest round of cost-cutting amid slowing sales growth.
The affected stores will remain open until April 1, the company said Friday.
“Like any physical retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions along the way,” Amazon spokesperson Jessica Martin said in an emailed statement. “We remain committed to the Amazon Go format, operate more than 20 Amazon Go stores across the US and will continue to learn which locations and features resonate most with customers.”
The company unveiled its first cashierless store near its Seattle headquarters in 2016, offering salads, sandwiches and snacks for busy office workers seeking a meal-on-the-run option. The format was a victim of the pandemic because so many people worked from home and still go to the office only a few days a week.
Amazon made its biggest move into physical retail in 2017 with the US$13 billion ($17.49 billion) acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which has more than 500 locations. Since then, the company has launched its own chain of Amazon Fresh supermarkets, arguing that it needed its own distinct format to increase grocery sales.
Amazon’s efforts to crack physical retail have been beset with challenges. Besides the latest move to close eight Go locations, the company has shuttered book stores and novelty shops around the country. Amazon also recently put on hold the expansion of Fresh stores as it evaluates how to make the chain stand out to shoppers.
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Since a pandemic-era boom began petering out, the company has been cutting costs. Amazon last year froze most corporate hiring and began a round of layoffs that will ultimately total about 18,000 workers. Bloomberg reported Friday that the company is pausing construction at its sprawling second headquarters near Washington.
Tech industry news site Geekwire earlier reported the Amazon Go closures.