Amazon closing eight Amazon Go convenience stores in latest tightening of its physical retail – GeekWire

An Amazon Go location in downtown Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon announced on Friday that it will permanently close eight of its high-tech Amazon Go convenience stores, including two in Seattle. It’s the tech giant’s latest move to withdraw some of its brick-and-mortar retail stores.

“Like any physical retailer, we regularly evaluate our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions as we go,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The two affected Seattle stores are located downtown, in the Macy’s Building at 3rd Avenue and Pine Street and at 4th Avenue and Pike Street. According to Amazon, both stores have been closed for some time.

Two stores in New York City and four in San Francisco will also close. The affected shops will continue to operate until April 1st.

“We remain committed to the Amazon Go format, operate more than 20 Amazon Go stores across the United States, and will continue to learn which locations and features are resonating best with customers as we continue to develop our Amazon Go stores,” the spokesperson said .

The company said it would continue to open new stores. A location south of Seattle in Puyallup, Washington recently opened.

Inside the first Amazon Go store in Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The move to tighten the physical retail belt comes exactly a year after Amazon announced it would close 68 brick-and-mortar stores, including all Amazon 4-star, book and pop-up stores. The company said at the time it planned to focus more on its grocery and convenience stores Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market and Amazon Go.

Since then, Amazon has been hit by the same economic uncertainty as a number of big tech companies. Earlier Friday, Amazon confirmed it was pausing construction on its HQ2 project in the Washington, DC area.

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The company laid off 18,000 corporate and technology employees in late 2022 and through 2023 — the biggest cuts in its 28-year history. CEO Andy Jassy said in a memo to employees in January that Amazon Stores (the company’s retail arm) would be among the affected businesses.

Amazon closed one of two Fresh Pickup locations in Seattle in late January. Located in the Ballard neighborhood, the facility served as a drive-up grocery pickup service for Amazon Prime members, as well as a drop-off point for package returns.

The Information reported in December that at least seven newly built Amazon Fresh locations in the US are sitting empty as store openings grind to a halt. It described the locations as “zombie” grocery stores and said keeping them in limbo could be a cost-cutting tactic for the tech giant.

Additionally, Bloomberg reported last fall that Amazon was closing or abandoning plans for dozens of U.S. department stores as the e-commerce giant shelved some pandemic-era expansion efforts.

Overhead cameras at an Amazon Go store. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon opened the first Go location at the foot of the Day One headquarters in Seattle in 2018. The store introduced the tech giant’s ‘Just Walk Out’ checkoutless technology, which relies on a suite of cameras and sensors to determine what shoppers are picking up. Shoppers are charged to a credit card used upon entry and can exit the store without having to queue at a checkout.

The technology is now being deployed at some of Amazon’s larger Amazon Fresh grocery stores, two Whole Foods stores, as well as grocery stores in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, T-Mobile Park and Lumen Field. Amazon opened its first Go location in a suburb north of Seattle last April in Mill Creek, Washington.

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Amazon is also taking the Just Walk Out technology beyond its own walls and selling it to other retailers. And in 2021, it opened a store with Starbucks that includes the cash register system.

Amazon opened another physical store concept called Amazon Go Grocery, Just Walk Out, in February 2020 in Redmond, Washington, a suburb east of Seattle. But it closed that location last year and ditched the Amazon Go Grocery brand.

There are still five Amazon Go locations in Seattle and numerous stores in Chicago, New York City, and Southern California.

Amazon said it is working with employees affected by the closures to identify new roles within Amazon, including at other nearby Go stores or at Amazon Operations locations such as fulfillment centers.


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