Amazon is planning to open its largest retail stores to date

Amazon is planning to dramatically expand its brick-and-mortar footprint with the opening of large sites similar to department stores, a report claimed on Thursday, August 19.

The company that made its name with online shopping has in recent years taken a growing interest in physical outlets, opening bookstores, grocery stores, and premises selling its growing range of electronics, among other items.

But a Wall Street Journal report this week says the e-commerce giant is planning to open multiple “large stores” to “extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items, electronics, and other areas,” with shelves featuring Amazon’s own-label products as well as goods from “top consumer brands,” people with knowledge of the matter said.

The first openings are likely to take place in California and Ohio, with the stores expected to cover an area of around 30,000 square feet. That’s almost 10 times larger than Amazon’s existing 4-Star sites and similar in size to the smaller stores that have been opened recently by the likes of Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.

The Journal’s report comes a year after a similar one from the same publication that suggested Amazon could even move into sites vacated by the likes of Sears and J.C. Penney, whose businesses have been hit by Amazon’s hugely successful online operation. No, the irony of Amazon’s reported retail expansion will not be lost on those hammered by the company’s meteoric rise since its launch 27 years ago.

This week’s update from the Journal makes no mention of when Amazon might open its first large store, but the report appears to confirm that the Seattle-based company is moving forward with its apparent plan to further expand its physical retail presence.

While many may see it as a bold step considering the growing popularity of online shopping, the reported move suggests Amazon is enjoying success with its current retail outlets and is now ready to explore a new format in terms of its own store operations.

Amazon opened its first retail store six years ago as a way to sell more books. Since then, it’s launched more bookstores and opened cashier-free grocery stores called Go that use cameras to track customers’ selections before automatically charging their account. It also opened Amazon Fresh grocery stores and in 2017 acquired Whole Foods, which has around 500 sites. In a further expansion into real-world retail stores, Amazon launched its 4-Star format that offers popular items from its online site.

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