By Spencer Soper and Shruti Date Singh | Bloomberg
Amazon.com Inc. said it’s closing six Whole Foods Market locations in four states — including the store at 18700 Ventura Blvd in Tarzana, which opened in 2010 — almost two months after shutting dozens of bookstores and gift shops around the country.
Other closed locations, out of more than 500 stores nationwide, are in Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama; Brookline, Mass.; and the Englewood and DePaul neighborhoods of Chicago, Amazon said Friday. Five stores will close by May 6 and the Englewood location will close in coming months.
Not far away from the Tarzana site, the store at 21347 Ventura Blvd. in Woodland Hills was not on the closure list. Not far from the San Fernando Valley’s Whole Foods sites, the first Amazon Fresh opened in Woodland Hills, in the Warner Center area, in 2020.
In the San Fernando Valley, Whole Foods markets also operate three sites in Sherman Oaks, one in Porter Ranch, as well as nearby stores in Burbank and Glendale, according to the company website. The chain owns more than two dozen sites in Southern California.
Meanwhile, Amazon Fresh opened two more stores in April, with another coming in May, to bring its total of Southern California stories to 14.
“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores,” a Whole Foods spokeswoman said in an email . “We are supporting impacted Team Members through this transition and expect that all interested, eligible Team Members will find positions at our other locations.”
Amazon on Thursday said it had excess warehouse space and employees when explaining an unexpected first-quarter loss and a bleak outlook for the current period. Online sales dropped 3% in the quarter. The shares declined 14% on Friday, the biggest one-day drop since July 2006.
Revenue from physical stores, which is mostly Whole Foods, was one of the few bright spots from Amazon’s quarterly results, with sales of $4.59 billion, up 17% from a year earlier.
Amazon in March announced it would shutter its physical bookstores, “Amazon 4-Star” locations and mall pop-up kiosks to narrow its brick-and-mortar efforts to the grocery sector. The Seattle-based company made its biggest move into physical retail in 2017 with the $13 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market. Since then, the company has also launched its own Amazon Fresh supermarkets and now has more than 20 locations in California, Illinois and the mid-Atlantic region.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday said the decision to close the two stores in her city was “disappointing.” She expressed concern for the workers as well as the harm to some residents in communities who risk having few other choices for their grocery shopping. The mayor also said new uses will need to be found so the locations don’t remain empty.