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Amazon to close 4-star shops, bookstores to focus on Whole Foods, Fresh

Amazon is shutting down its 68 brick-and-mortar bookstores and pop-up kiosks in the US and UK to concentrate on its supermarkets, including Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, Reuters reported. “We’ve decided to close our Amazon 4-star, Books, and Pop Up stores and focus more on our Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go, and Amazon Style stores and our Just Walk Out technology,” an Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg. “We remain committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies, and we’re working closely with our affected employees to help them find new roles within Amazon.” After opening its first book shop in Seattle in 2015, Amazon has tried out an array of retail concepts: convenience stores without cashiers, supermarkets, and a format called “4-star” in which it sells toys, household items and other goods with high customer ratings. But those ventures have not been as profitable as the company had hoped. Amazon operated 24 book stores, 33 4-star locations, and nine pop-up kiosks in shopping malls. There were plans in the works to open an additional 16 4-star locations. Instead, the company will now shift its focus to its Whole Foods and its own branded supermarkets and grocery stores. Last week, Amazon unveiled its first-ever cashierless Whole Foods location in Washington, DC. Shoppers at the Whole Foods location in the Glover Park section of the capital no longer need to interact with anyone at a cash register when paying for their groceries. The company unveiled its Just Walk Out technology, which was first announced in the fall of last year, at the 21,500-square-foot location — the first of two that will be outfitted with automated cash registers. A similar initiative is being planned for a Whole Foods in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. The technology is already available at several Amazon Fresh grocery stores and in its Go convenience stores.

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