Jan 4, 2023 - Business

Amazon Fresh stores sit empty in Twin Cities suburbs

An Amazon Fresh store

A planned Amazon Fresh store in Eagan. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

Amazon's expansion into the Twin Cities bricks-and-mortar grocery market has come to a near halt.

What's happening: Not much. The shells of several Amazon Fresh stores in the suburbs have been built and have Amazon's distinctive logo on their awnings, but they're sitting empty.

The latest: We stopped by the Eagan store last week. It's built, but there's no drywall or flooring and there were no signs of construction on an interior buildout.

  • The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal found that stores in Eden Prairie, Burnsville, Coon Rapids and Arden Hills are in a similar condition.
  • A planned store in Woodbury has not begun construction, while construction on the shell of the Lakeville store is ongoing, per the Biz Journal.

Why it matters: Twin Cities shoppers have been waiting to see how these stores operate and how they compete on price and quality with other grocers.

Zoom out: Amazon, which has never confirmed its Twin Cities plans, appears to be rethinking its Fresh strategy nationwide.

  • Amazon rolled out the checkout-free stores in September 2020 and reached a height of 44 stores, according to tech publication The Information.
  • But several planned stores in the pipeline remain empty and city officials have been left in the dark as to when they might open. The Information called them "zombie" stores.
  • Amazon has not opened a store since September 2022, the publication reported.

The intrigue: Multiple local sources with knowledge of Amazon's plans tell Axios that Amazon is not quitting on the Twin Cities, but rather, it's recalibrating its store designs and checkout technology. At the earliest, they said, Amazon would begin opening stores here in the fall.

  • The sources asked to remain anonymous because they aren't authorized to discuss Amazon's plans.

What they're saying: "We do not comment on our future roadmap," Amazon spokesperson Alicia Hopkins wrote in an email.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the Arden Hills Fresh store has been built but it's interior isn't finished. We previously reported it hadn't begun construction.


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