If there’s any hope to be found nowadays, it could be that at least Amazon is carrying on like business will get back to normal at some point. Grocery Dive reports that Amazon is taking over the leases of two New York City stores that belonged to the now bankrupt Fairway Market chain.
Amazon paid a reported $1.5 million at auction for the stores, which are located in Paramus and Woodland Park. Amazon recently opened up a cashierless Go Grocery store in its hometown of Seattle, and was supposed to open up the first of its full-on supermarkets in Woodside, CA this month but, you know, that probably getting pushed out, given the state of the world. Grocery Dive says Amazon is also interested in opening up grocery stores in Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
While there is some comfort in the fact that Amazon is forging ahead, one has to wonder if Amazon is altering any of its building plans because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Amazon has said its Woodside location won’t have cashierless checkout, but as grocery retailers limit hours, put cashiers behind plexiglass shields and take other measures to reduce human contact, will Amazon reconsider? No cashiers is one less person on the frontlines of any future outbreak.
Additionally, we also know that the Woodside location will have some form of automated robot fulfillment. The question now is whether the surge in online grocery shopping occuring now, as people shelter in place, will continue after the outbreak recedes. Will Amazon, which already loves robots, build more of its future stores around e-commerce fulfillment automation into its future locations?
The question of how things will change for good once life gets back to normal is one we’re asking about a lot of our previous behaviors. But with Amazon just now building out grocery market locations from the ground up, it has the opportunity to capitalize on any new norms.