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UPDATED: Is Amazon planning to open hundreds of physical bookstores?

After opening its first permanent physical bookstore in November last year, Amazon may be planning to open hundreds more.

CEO of US shopping centre group, General Growth Partners (GGP), Sandeep Mathrani, said the e-commerce giant was planning to open “300 to 400” bookstores during an earnings call yesterday.

In the transcript of the call, which was picked up in a Wall Street Journal report, Mathrani revealed Amazon’s plans in response to a question about mall foot traffic. Emphasising the importance of physical stores as collection or return points for online purchases, he cited Amazon as an example.  

“You go to Amazon opening bricks and mortar book stores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Mathrani said. 

Update: CEO walks back comments (4/2 9:30am)
GGP later issued a statement that Mathrani’s comments were “not intended to represent Amazon’s plans.”

During the call Mathrani also referred to online retailers Bonobos and Warby Parking opening bricks and mortar locations, and said Birchbox – which recently cut 15 per cent of its staff and suspended its Canadian operations – “is cutting their overhead to open bricks and mortar stores.”

He went on to say that in the fashion-focused mall industry, e-commerce is more of a friend than foe.

“It’s a very interesting evolution because the cost of the last mile is that important,” Mathrani said. “And again the mall business, if you appreciate which is more focused on fashion, is very different than a staple business where you’re buying [a] commodity. So you know in the mall business, the impact of e-commerce is a lot less, it’s actually your friend not your enemy.” 

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