Amazon Fresh Entry

Amazon has shuttered a checkout-less Amazon Fresh store in the UK for the first time.

The store in Dalston closed this week, less than 18 months after it launched, with Amazon confirming the move was permanent.

The store, in Kingsland High Street, Dalston, was the sixth Amazon Fresh store to open in the UK, featuring the company’s ‘Just Walk Out’ technology, which allows customers to scan their phone on entry, then simply pick up items and leave.

“Just like other retailers, we regularly review our business and from time to time adjust to ensure we are able to best serve our customers,” an Amazon spokeswoman told The Grocer.

“We remain committed to Amazon Fresh UK physical stores and, in fact, are excited to confirm we will soon open two new Amazon Fresh stores in the Greater London area,” she added.

The first of those new stores was revealed today to be located in Ruskin Square, Croydon. Local newspapers in the Croydon area first reported the store’s opening as imminent in July last year.

With Dalston’s closure and Croydon’s opening, Amazon’s total store count in the UK is 19.

The failure of the Dalston store has been put down to its poor choice of location by experts.

“I just don’t think it was right for them,” said PwC senior retail adviser Kien Tan, who first spotted the store had closed. “Their proposition is for more affluent commuters. It’s people going to work or coming back from work. [Amazon Fresh Dalston] was next to a station, but not one people commute to. If you commute to the city you use the other Dalston station.

“I used to go once a week. And 80% of the time I was the only customer,” he added.

Miya Knights, co-author of Amazon and Omnichannel Retail, told The Grocer she was not surprised by the closure.

“The economics of operating a checkout-free store with Just Walk Out technology only works in very affluent, urban areas with high levels of professional or high-income footfall,” Knights said.

“But nearly half of all households in the Hackney and Dalston area rent from a social landlord, meaning they are most likely negatively affected by rising inflation and the cost of living crisis and, therefore, least suited to be able to afford the Amazon Fresh convenience proposition,” she added.

In late 2021, it was revealed an estate of more than 260 Fresh stores by 2025 was central to Amazon’s plan to truly compete in convenience grocery in the UK.

However, last summer, according to a source close to the project cited in The Sunday Times, the US retail giant called off the search for new locations for its convenience stores, and walked away from talks on dozens of sites.