Amazon is set to launch department stores in its latest push to disrupt physical retail

Amazon is reportedly planning to open a number of physical department stores in what would represent a major shake up of the struggling sector.

Amazon is poised to launch a number of department store-style bricks-and-mortar stores across California and Ohio, according to anonymous sources familiar with its plans who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

The retail giant’s latest foray into physical retail will see it open stores spanning roughly 30,000sq ft, around the average size of a TK Maxx store.

While this is considerably smaller than a John Lewis-style department store, the new-format locations will reportedly offer everything from furniture to clothing and electronics, with a major focus on its growing roster of own brands.

Amazon has already experimented with multi-product physical stores with its Amazon 4-Star offering, which offer products from a wide selection of categories sold on its online platform with a 4-star or above user rating.

READ MORE: Amazon to buy up JC Penney and Sears department stores and convert them to fulfillment centres

It comes as the ecommerce giant continues its relentless push into physical retail, opening five of its signature “Just Walk Out” Amazon Fresh grocery stores in London in as many months.

While its disruption of the physical grocery space comes at a period of pandemic-driven prosperity for the sector, traditional department stores have been in significant decline since long before COVID.

American giants JC Penny and Sears, alongside UK stalwarts like Debenhams and House of Fraser have all collapsed or undergone massive reductions in store estates over the past few years.

Those remaining, like the UK’s John Lewis, are now scrambling to modernise their operations after years of dragging their heels in with digital adoption.

This makes the market ripe for disruption and would fit Amazon’s modus operandi perfectly.

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