The closed locations, of more than 500 stores nationwide, are in Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama; Tarzan, Calif.; Brookline, Mass.; and the Englewood and DePaul neighborhoods of Chicago, Amazon said Friday. Five stores will close May 6, and the Englewood location will close in the coming months.
“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 have made the difficult decision to close six stores,” said a Whole Foods spokeswoman. Foods in an email. “We are supporting affected team members through this transition and hope that all interested and eligible team members will find positions at our other locations.”
Amazon on Thursday said it had excess storage space and employees, explaining an unexpected loss in the first quarter and a gloomy outlook for the current period. Online sales fell 3% in the quarter. Shares fell 14% on Friday, the biggest one-day drop since July 2006.
Revenue from brick-and-mortar stores, which are mostly Whole Foods, was one of the few bright spots in Amazon’s quarterly results, with sales of $4.59 billion, up 17% from a year earlier.
Amazon announced in March that it would close its physical bookstores, “Amazon 4-Star” locations and mall pop-up kiosks to reduce its physical efforts in 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 said Friday that 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 are at risk of having few options for their grocery shopping. The mayor also said that it will be necessary to find new uses so that the locations do not remain empty.
“Together with communities and local elected leaders, my administration will work to reuse these locations in a way that continues to serve the community and support surrounding businesses,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “We as a city will continue to work hard to close food deserts that meet the needs of the community with the community at the table.”
The Englewood location opened in 2016 to great fanfare from then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had championed it as a way to bring fresh food and economic opportunity to a low-income, minority community on the city’s South Side. Amazon this month opened a new Whole Foods near the Chicago River North and Gold Coast neighborhoods.