Amazon is closing some of its cashier-free stores

New York

Amazon is permanently closing eight of its 29 Amazon Go convenience stores that offer customers the ability to shop without any kind of checkout process.

The stores were supposed to offer benefits for both customers and the company. The Amazon Go stores allowed for maximum convenience: customers can shop for the items they want and then walk past scanners which register their purchases without any kind of checkout or scanning of items required. They also eliminated the need for staff positions, helping Amazon’s bottom line.

Amazon debuted the Go store in Seattle in 2016. It hailed the stores as the future of shopping, especially for convenience stores in busy downtowns of major cities. At one point Amazon expected there to be hundreds if not thousands of stores nationwide, according to published reports that were never confirmed by the company. But they never lived up to those expectations.

But the closings, first reported by Geekwire, are another sign of cost-cutting efforts at the online shopping giant. Last week Amazon (AMZN) announced it is pausing construction on its second headquarters in northern Virginia, outside of Washington, DC. In January it confirmed plans to cut 18,000 jobs from its global workforce.

“Like any physical retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions along the way. In this case, we’ve decided to close a small number of Amazon Go stores in Seattle, New York City, and San Francisco,” said Amazon in an emailed statement. “We remain committed to the Amazon Go format, operate more than 20 Amazon Go stores across the US, and will continue to learn which locations and features resonate most with customers as we keep evolving our Amazon Go stores.” The company said it will continue to open Amazon Go stores, including one recently in the Seattle and Tacoma suburbs of Puyallup, Washington.

The stores being closed include two in downturn Seattle that had already been shut on a temporary basis, leaving five in the city. In addition it is closing two in New York City and four in San Francisco. The six closings of stores still operating are due to take place April 1. In addition to the 21 Amazon Go stores that will remain, there are two locations in New York that share the brand with Starbucks.

Amazon has been trying its checkout-free technology at select Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh stores in addition to its Amazon Go locations.