Amazon continues its disruption of the retail industry, this time with the opening of a physical high street store in East Sheen, the 3rd store of its kind which will be opening in the imminent future. But what does this mean for the high street?

On the 4th of March 2021, Amazon opened the first of its new 'Amazon Fresh' store in Ealing, west London, with the second opening in Wembley Park Boulevard on the 16th, March. Both stores feature Amazon’s 'Just Walk Out' technology which allows customers to scan their Amazon Go app on arrival, fill their bags with products, and then leave without any interaction with staff or even a self-checkout machine. The customers’ app is then charged automatically for any items they walk out with. Matt Birch, director of Amazon Fresh Stores UK says Amazon they are "excited" to open their second store, which they describe as making "shopping for essential grocery items even more convenient".

Amazon describes Amazon Fresh as being a "convenience grocery store", which not only sells everything you would expect from a convenience store, but also Amazon devices, as well as Amazon’s own-brand essentials.

So, what are the pros of having an Amazon Fresh in East Sheen?

Well, for one it speeds up the shopping process significantly as there is no need to wait in a queue for a checkout as you can ‘Just Walk Out’.

Whilst the novelty will wear off eventually, it is Amazon's 'Just Walk Out' system is a unique and interesting way of shopping; something I think will initially attract customers.

A cashier-less shopping experience is also something that is particularly useful in our current climate as by not having to interact with a person at a till, it is much easier to socially distance whilst shopping.  

The Amazon Fresh opening in East Sheen is making use of a shop on the high street that is not currently in use.

What about the cons?

Given the cashier-less nature of this new store, Amazon will not be employing as many people to work in the shop as other high street retailers which isn't good for local employment.

Amazon has already monopolised the online retail industry and is showing no signs of slowing. Today, Amazon released its total revenue for the first quarter of 2021. The data has shown Amazon’s profits to have more than tripled since January, totalling over £5.8 billion. The fear is that Amazon is also planning to monopolise the high street.

These new stores also have the potential to act as hubs for speedy urban deliveries and grocery pick-ups, which, whilst more environmentally friendly, will undoubtedly be concerning to established high street retailers who are generally making a loss on local deliveries.

There is also a fear that, because Amazon is in a better position to negotiate cheaper prices with producers, Amazon Fresh stores will be able to undercut the convenience stores on our high streets, resulting in such convenience stores facing decreasing sales.

With up to 30 more Amazon Fresh stores due to arrive on UK high streets in the near future, as well as the fact that Amazon will begin selling its 'Just Walk Out' technology to other retailers, it looks likely that such stores will have a lasting effect on our high streets, although it is still unclear as to whether these effects will be positive or negative.