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Amazon to shut 68 retail sites, including its bookstores

Amazon has revealed plans to close all 68 of its brick-and-mortar bookstores, 4-Star locations, and pop-up sites in the U.S. and U.K. in a surprise move revealed on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The company will, however, continue to operate Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, and its high-tech Amazon Go stores that let you select your items and leave without having to wait at a checkout. It will also stick with plans to open its first Amazon Style clothing store in Los Angeles later this year, the company told the New York Times.

The opening of an Amazon Books location in NYC.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The stores will be shut down on various dates, though Amazon has declined to offer any specific details at this stage. The company also declined to say how many jobs will be lost, but said it will offer to help staff find new jobs, or alternatively provide them with a severance package.

Amazon opened its first physical bookstore in 2015, filling the displays with books that were selling well on its online site. As of last year, it operated 24 bookstores across more than 12 states.

Amazon 4-Sar was more experimental, stocking items that received high ratings on its online store, while the pop-up stores were temporary installations that let shoppers get hands-on with Amazon’s growing range of tech devices.

While Amazon isn’t completely turning its back on its retail store operation, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by its decision to pivot away from certain sectors. After all, as Reuters pointed out, revenue from Amazon’s brick-and-mortar stores accounted for just 3% of its $137 billion in sales during its most recently reported quarter, with most of that coming from sales at its Whole Foods subsidiary.

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