When the first ‘just-walk-out’ Amazon Fresh store outside the US opened its doors on Ealing Broadway back in March 2021, it felt like a big moment. Was this the future of shopping? Would all supermarkets soon have no tills, with customers instead paying through online accounts with global tech giants?
If till-free stores are the future, it turns out they aren’t yet the future. Amazon Fresh has just closed three branches, including that first London store on Ealing Broadway. The other closed branches are in Wandsworth and East Sheen.
Customers who shop at Amazon Fresh stores scan a QR code on their arrival and are automatically billed when they leave. The system (understandably, tbh) raised concerns amongst campaigners keen to protect individual privacy.
While the closing of the original Amazon Fresh seems a bit bleak for the future of till-free shops, the situation isn’t all that dire. The high cost of the tech involved is likely a major obstacle to the growth of Amazon’s stores. Plus, 17 sites remain operating in London and the retail giant still has plans to open more – namely in Croydon and Monument – in the near future.
Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.