Never-opened Amazon Fresh locations are now on the market for sublease

A half dozen of the yet-to-open grocery stores are listed for sublease in the Twin Cities area, as well as a couple of locations in Detroit, according to local new reports, lending greater uncertainty to Amazon's plans for the banner.
Amazon Fresh
A shuttered Amazon Fresh in Plainview, New York. / Photo courtesy: Russell Redman

The mystery of the stagnant Amazon Fresh stores continues this week with news reports that half a dozen of the yet-to-be-open grocery stores in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area are now available for sublease. 

News website Axios Twin Cities reported that six of the unopened stores—located in Eagan, Eden Prairie, Arden Hills, Lakeville, Coon Rapids and Burnsville—can be subleased through Mid-America Real Estate’s Twin City office. 

Representatives for both Amazon and Mid-America declined to comment or confirm the report.  

The listing for the Eagan location on Mid-America's website shows a 34,500-square-foot store with a 147-space parking lot. Neighboring grocery tenants for the location include Walmart, Sam’s Club, Cub Foods, Hy-Vee and other big-box retailers such as Best Buy and Home Depot. 

The listing did not reveal the asking price for the sublease.  

The Twin Cities isn’t the only area of the country where Amazon Fresh stores have been shuttered or put up for lease. Crain’s Detroit Business reported that plans for two of the stores have been canceled in the Detroit metro area, and one, planned for the suburb of Madison Heights, has also been put on the market for sublease.  

The news follows a slew of local and national news stories across the country over the last several weeks, reporting that planned Amazon Fresh stores have never opened. Those local news stories intensified in April, when Amazon began removing the illuminated Amazon Fresh signs from the unopened locations.  

While the company declined to give any details about Amazon Fresh locations being listed for sublease, Spokeswoman Jessica Martin reiterated comments about Amazon’s grocery business made by CEO Andy Jassy at the retail giant’s quarterly earning call in February

At that time, Jassy called grocery “a really important and strategic area for us," adding that it’s a "very large market segment” and will eventually be omnichannel. “There are going to be a lot of people that order the grocery items online and have it delivered to them, and there are going to be a lot of people who continue to buy in physical stores,” Jassy told analysts. “But you're going to also see a hybrid of those, where people pick out what they want online and pick it up in stores, or people are in stores. And there's something that's not in inventory in the stores, so they go to their app or to a kiosk in order it to be delivered from online. And so I think having omnichannel is going to really matter.” 

Jassy went on to say that in order to have a large physical store, "you need a different offering, and that's what we've been working on with Amazon Fresh, and we have a few dozen stores so far.” He added that the company is still experimenting with the stores and working to find a format that suits customers.  

“It's differentiated in some meaningful fashion and where we like the economics. And we've been—we've decided over the last year or so that we're not going to expand the physical Fresh doors until we have that equation with differentiation and economic value that we like, but we're optimistic that we're going to find that in 2023,” he said. "But I think that we have a very significant opportunity in the grocery segment. I think we're building a pretty broad grocery network across online and physical, and you're going to see us continue to work on it.” 

At the retailer's most-recent earnings call less than two weeks ago, Jassy admitted that he wishes the company was “further along” with Amazon Fresh.  

Seattle-based Amazon lists 44 open Fresh locations on its website. After a swift opening pace last year, the company has not opened a new grocery store since September. The retailer also operated 30 Amazon Go convenience stores and more than 500 Whole Foods Market grocery stores as of the end of 2022.



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