Amazon’s disappearing bookstores

Amazon booksA US mall CEO has walked back claims he made yesterday that Amazon plans to open “300 to 400” bookstores.

CEO of US shopping centre group, General Growth Partners (GGP), Sandeep Mathrani, said the e-commerce giant was planning to open hundreds of physical bookstores during an earnings call this week.

The e-commerce giant opened its first permanent bookstore in Seattle in November last year called Amazon Books.

Mathrani made the comments in response to a question about mall foot traffic. Emphasising the importance of physical stores as collection or return points for online purchases, he cited Amazon as an example.

“You go to Amazon opening bricks and mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Mathrani said during the call.

Today GGP issued a statement that Mathrani’s comments were “not intended to represent Amazon’s plans.”

During the call Mathrani also referred to online retailers Bonobos and Warby Parking opening bricks and mortar locations, and said subscription box service Birchbox – which recently cut 15 per cent of its staff and suspended its Canadian operations – “is cutting their overhead to open bricks and mortar stores.”

He went on to say that in the fashion-focused mall industry, e-commerce is more of a friend than foe.

“It’s a very interesting evolution because the cost of the last mile is that important,” Mathrani said. “And again the mall business, if you appreciate which is more focused on fashion, is very different than a staple business where you’re buying [a] commodity. So you know in the mall business, the impact of e-commerce is a lot less, it’s actually your friend not your enemy.”

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