Internet retail giant Amazon is to make a move into high street shopping as it opens 10 brick-and-mortar pop-up shops in UK town centres.
Amazon has a reputation for being one of the reasons that many shops on the UK high street disappeared in the past decade thanks to its low prices, convenience and huge choice.
And now the internet shopping behemoth is taking over the spaces left empty by the failing shops, which include Debenhams, Mothercare and Maplin, and opening 10 ‘pop-up’ stores that will sell everything from books to homewares, food and drink to electronics.
Where will the first shop be?
The first of the pop ups - which will be called Clicks and Mortar - will open in St Mary’s Gate in central Manchester on Monday and will also offer Amazon Lockers for customers to collect Amazon orders.
The locations of the others have not yet been revealed, however Amazon has confirmed that they will be spread around the UK and there will be outlets in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the south east.
Amazon says that the pop-up shops - which are part of a one-year pilot scheme - will give small online businesses a chance to establish a bricks-and-mortar presence on the high street. Amazon will not take any commission from the seller's sales.
It is part of a project the company is taking part in with Enterprise Nation, which supports small businesses.
What will the shops sell?
The pop-ups will stock products from 100 sellers who have until now been online-only, including Swifty Scooters, and skincare brand Altr For Men.
The move follows a similar decision by Ebay, which opened a store in Wolverhampton earlier this year, selling products from 40 online retailers.
And in October last year Amazon opened a pop-up fashion shop on Baker Street to test out its clothing brands on potential customers.
For the past two years Amazon has also used physical spaces to promote Black Friday deals.
With many high street staples like Boots, Marks and Spencer and Topshop closing stores, there will be no shortage of space for the new Amazon shops.
Criticism of Amazon
The firm has drawn criticism over its tax payments from competitors, many of which have been hit with rapidly rising business rates.
Business rates have been a major factor in the plight of the UK high street, however Amazon confirmed last year that it pays UK business rates of only £63.4m – almost £40m less than Next, despite sales of more than double the £4bn reported by the UK fashion and home retailer.
And with costs so much lower than traditional high street shops, Amazon has always been able to undercut on price and beat competitors.
Doug Gurr, Amazon UK’s country manager, said: “Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses, helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK. Small businesses are one of our most important customer groups.”
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “UK shoppers like to shop both online and in high street stores [and this will] enable customers to discover new brands on their local high streets.
“Our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail. This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time.”