Amazon opens suburban Go stores despite grocery expansion pause

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company would still “go big” on physical stores even though it’s pausing Fresh expansion and closing underperforming stores.
An Amazon Go store.
  • Amazon is planning to “go big” in physical stores. 
  • The retailer earlier this month said it would pause opening new Fresh stores and close some Fresh and Go stores.
  • This week, Amazon opened its fifth suburban Amazon Go store.

Despite Amazon’s plans to slow its expansion into grocery, CEO Andy Jassy said in an interview that the retailer still has big plans in the brick-and-mortar retail space. 

As Retail Leader previously reported, the e-commerce giant during a Feb. 2 call with investors said it would rethink its plans in grocery, pausing openings of new Amazon Fresh stores and closing an unspecified number of Fresh and Amazon Go stores. 

“We're continuously refining our store formats to find the ones that will resonate with customers, will build our grocery brand and will allow us to scale meaningfully over time,” said Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s giant’s chief financial officer. “As such, we periodically access our portfolio of stores and decide to exit certain stores with low-growth potential.” 

But in an interview this week with the Financial Times, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the retailer still planned to “go big” in the physical retail space, citing a lack of “normalcy” during the COVID-19 pandemic for its shifting strategy.

“Remember, a lot of these opened right in the heart of the pandemic,” Jassy told the outlet. “So we haven’t had a lot of normalcy. We’re experimenting with selection, checkout formats, assortment, price points. I’m encouraged we have several that I think are promising.”

Jassy said Amazon was still in the “early stages” of its foray into physical retail, and he said he hoped the company would have a format it wanted to “go big on” in 2023. Amazon owns and operates the popular Whole Foods Market grocery chain, and it also operates two Amazon Style apparel stores. The retailer shut down most of its non-grocery physical concepts last year, including Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star and Amazon Pop Up store formats.

Amazon on Feb. 14 opened a new Go store — its c-store concept typically found in cities — in the Frederickson area of Puyallup, Washington. The new store is the latest Go location to open in a suburban neighborhood and follows the opening of a suburban Go store in Woodland Hills, California, late last year. The Puyallup store is the fifth suburban Go location overall.

The suburban Go concept includes a broader selection of grab-and-go food and beverages, according to Amazon, as well as more beer, wine and other essentials than a typical city-located Go store. The retailer also noted the suburban Go stores have a made-to-order kitchen, specialty beverages and frozen yogurt from Pinkberry. Like its other suburban Go stores, the Puyallup store offers products from local businesses. Customers can also return products purchased on Amazon at the store.

The new Go location is around 5,250 square feet, approximately half of which is front-of-house space — the suburban stores are designed to be larger than their urban counterparts. Like all Go stores, the new store includes Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, which enables customers to grab items and leave the store without ever having to check out.