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What just happened? Amazon is permanently closing eight of its cashierless Amazon Go stores as the tech giant continues tightening its belt. Four of the affected stores are located in San Francisco, two are in New York City, and two are in Seattle. They will continue to operate until April 1.
When the first Amazon Go store opened in Seattle in 2018 following a lengthy delay, its Just Walk Out technology that allows shoppers to pick items off the shelves and leave was hailed as the future of shopping: no lines, checkouts, or registers, with the bill automatically charged to a person's Amazon account when they leave. Since then, over 40 stores have popped up in five different states and even made it to London, where they are branded as Amazon Fresh.
But not all the stores are proving successful. In a statement regarding the eight closures, Amazon said, "Like any physical retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions along the way."
Amazon added that it remains committed to the Amazon Go format and continues to learn which locations and features resonate with most customers as it keeps evolving the outlets. It will also continue to open new stores – Geekwire reports that a new store was recently opened south of Seattle.
The announcement comes almost a year to the day since Amazon said it would be shuttering all of its Amazon Books physical stores in the US and UK, as well as its Amazon 4-star and remaining Amazon Pop-Up stores. In total, almost 70 stores were shut down as it shifted the focus to Amazon Fresh, Go, Whole Foods, and its cashierless tech.
Amazon is one of the many tech giants cutting staff and pausing projects now that the pandemic boom times are over and the global economy falters. It announced a record 18,000 job cuts in January, is closing and abandoning plans for dozens of US warehouses, and is pausing construction on its second headquarters in Virginia, where it aims to hire 25,000 workers by 2030.
Elsewhere, Amazon closed one of two Fresh Pickup locations in Seattle in January, and one of the Amazon Fresh stores in London is closing after 18 months of operation. There was also a report from The Information revealing that at least seven newly built Amazon Fresh locations in the US are sitting empty as "zombie" stores.
Amazon said it is working with employees affected by the closures to identify new roles within the company, including at other nearby Go stores or at Amazon Operations sites.