By Alice Seeley

Amazon announced on March 2 that it is closing all of its 68 brick and mortar bookstores in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Amazon will refocus the company’s physical retail efforts into building department stores such as Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go, and Amazon Style stores.   

It is unclear how many employees are being affected. However, Amazon spokeswoman Betsy Harden said Amazon remains “committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies” and is “working closely with [its] affected employees to help them find new roles within Amazon.”   

Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle in 2015, after two decades of selling books online, with the hope of reaching shoppers in more places and spreading its business.  

This announcement comes as Amazon looks for new ways to reignite sales as its overall revenue growth is declining. CNBC reported that Amazon’s physical locations have performed far worse than its digital storefront in recent years. Amazon’s physical book stores only brought in 3% of Amazon’s $137 billion revenue last quarter.   

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said the main problem with Amazon’s books stores is that they lacked a real purpose even though the merchandise was well-presented. The books stores “were designed for people to pop in and browse rather than as destinations where people would head on a mission to buy something,” Saunders told NPR