Shock Closure for Amazon's Till-less Grocery Store

Branch at Southside Shopping Centre was one of the first ever in the UK

Amazon Fresh on Garratt Lane
Amazon Fresh on Garratt Lane. Picture: Google Streetview

August 1, 2023

Amazon has closed the grocery store it launched on Garratt Lane by the Southside Shopping Centre two years ago.

The Amazon Fresh shop was one of the first ever ‘just walk out’ stores from the company ever outside the UK.

It closed on Sunday (23 July) with the giant online retailer describing the move as an ‘optimisation’. Similar stores launched later in Ealing and East Sheen were also axed on the same day.

The company also shut the outlet in Dalston this January but still has 17 branches of Amazon Fresh spread across London.

The concept is that you scanned in using an app as you entered the store and then cameras would monitor what products you took. Hundreds of cameras and sensors operate in the store using highly sophisticated software to track each shopper. You were automatically billed when you left the store.

In a statement about the closures Amazon said, "Like any physical retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimisation decisions along the way.

"While we decided to close three Amazon Fresh stores, it doesn't mean we won't grow - this year, we will open new Amazon Fresh stores to better serve customers in the greater London area."

The store was hailed as a huge step forward in retail technology when it opened but many were concerned about the privacy issues raised by the way it used technology.

When the store opened, Silkie Carlo of Big Brother Watch described it as a dystopian, total-surveillance shopping experience saying, "Amazon's intense tracking of shoppers will create larger personal data footprints than any other retailer. Customers deserve to know how and by whom these records and analytics could be used."

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