Amazon is to close all of its physical bookshops and 4-star stores

Amazon shutters bookshops and 4-star stores

Amazon is closing all 68 of its bricks-and-mortar bookstores and “4-star” shops in the UK and the US, the ecommerce giant has confirmed.

The move will bring to an end two of the company’s longest-running experiments, although it will continue to pursue other store chains, including Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go.

Closures dates will vary by location.

“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,” a spokeswoman said.

“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.”

Amazon, which began life as an online bookshop in the mid-1990s, opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle in 2015. Its 4-star stores, including ones in Westfield, London and Bluewater, Kent, only stock products — from toys to candles — with high customer reviews.

The company wanted to bring its online prowess to the high street. Both its bookstores and 4-star shops would analyse the shopping habits of its millions of customers and display the most popular titles and products. However, despite the innovation, revenue from its physical stores has regularly failed to keep up with the growth elsewhere in the business.

Investors would look the other way under Jeff Bezos’s leadership when the shares were motoring ever higher, but the company’s stock market performance has been more subdued under his successor, Andy Jassy.

The company is pushing ahead with other experiments. Earlier this year it unveiled Amazon Style, a bricks-and-mortar clothing shop that will use artificial intelligence to understand a customer’s preferences and recommend a suitable outfit.