What a sign of the times. For years, Amazon has been blamed for brick-and-mortar retail chains closing stores and in some cases going out of business all together. Today, Amazon got a taste of its own medicine. The e-commerce giant said it would close 68 of its physical stores, Reuters reported, including a chain of shops called 4-star that sells goods highly rated on Amazon’s website, as well as a group of Amazon Books stores it began opening about six years ago.
Let’s not go overboard about what this means. Amazon isn’t closing any of its Whole Foods locations, Amazon Go high-tech convenience stores (famous for their lack of human checkout clerks) or Amazon Fresh stores. The closures look to be a fine-tuning of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store strategy more than anything else. Indeed, earlier this week Amazon showed off a new version of a Whole Foods store equipped with the Amazon Go–like technology that does away with the need for human staff at the checkout. That implies Amazon still has huge ambitions for physical stores.