Amazon is closing an Amazon Fresh Pickup location in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, signaling another move by the tech giant to pull back on brick-and-mortar operations.
Some users of a neighborhood Facebook group said they had been told by employees at the location that it was closing, and Amazon confirmed to GeekWire on Wednesday that the last day would be Jan. 31.
The facility at 5100 15th Ave. N.W. first opened in May 2017 and served as a drive-up grocery pick-up service for Amazon Prime members as well as a drop-off spot for package returns.
Amazon said in a statement that the closure will allow the company “to further focus on other nearby Amazon Fresh grocery stores” and that customers in the area can use Amazon Fresh online delivery or pickup from another store. Returns can be dropped off at other Amazon Locker locations.
The company said all affected employees have been “offered opportunities at nearby Amazon locations.”
The pickup-only site was one of only two in the U.S. The other location, in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood at the Starbucks Center, remains open.
Planning documents for the new facility were first discovered by GeekWire in the summer of 2016, under the mysterious moniker “Project X.” Developed on the site of a former Chinese restaurant, the project team dubbed it “a new model of grocery shopping.”
By the time it opened a year later, Amazon’s broader push into physical retail was well underway, with Amazon Books locations opening across the country.
GeekWire tested the facility in May 2017, ordering groceries online and then driving up to a parking spot in front to retrieve them.
Over the years, Amazon Fresh Pickup competed with a number of “click and collect” pickup services at traditional grocery stores, such as Fred Meyer. The trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as people turned to online shopping and ways to avoid being in crowded stores.
But in March 2022, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar ambitions took a surprise turn when the company announced that it would permanently close 68 physical retail locations, including all of its Amazon 4-star, Books, and Pop Up stores.
In recent months and weeks, Amazon has been hit by the same economic uncertainty as a number of large tech companies. The company laid off 18,000 corporate and tech employees, and in a memo to employees earlier this month, CEO Andy Jassy signaled a shift in mindset with significant implications for the company’s future and its past efforts to dabble in everything.
When it announced the retreat on Books and other stores, Amazon said at the time that the company would focus more on Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market and Amazon Go grocery and convenience stores.
The Information reported in December that at least seven newly built Amazon Fresh locations in the U.S. are sitting empty as store openings ground to a halt. It referred to the locations as “zombie” grocery stores, and said keeping them in limbo could be a cost-cutting tactic for the tech giant.
In addition, Bloomberg reported last fall that Amazon was closing or abandoning plans for dozens of U.S. warehouses as the e-commerce giant unwound some pandemic-era expansion efforts.