People are shopping at the newly opened Amazon Books on May 25, 2017 in New York City.

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Amazon is closing all of its Amazon Books physical stores, as well as the 4-star Amazon and Amazon Pop Up stores, which sell a variety of electronics and other hot goods.

The closure affects 68 stores in the U.S. and the UK, Amazon said. Closing dates will vary by location, and Amazon said it will help affected employees find roles elsewhere in the company. Workers who choose not to stay will be offered severance pay, the statement said.

Amazon declined to say how many employees will be affected by the closure.

The news of the closure of stores was first reported by Reuters.

Amazon has gradually launched a number of standard concepts, from supermarkets to retail stores that offer branded electronics such as Fire tablets and smart Echo speakers. In particular, 4-star stores tried to combine the work of Amazon in stores and offline, showing in their online store the best-selling products.

But the growth sales of the physical stores division lagged far behind the company’s overall retail business. Physical stores, which include Whole Foods and Fresh outlets, reported lower sales in 2021 than in 2018.

Amazon is cutting a physical footprint in retail after becoming the slowest growth rate in any quarter since 2001. This year, shares have fallen more than 8%, and last year the shares were the worst in the Big Tech group.

An Amazon spokesman said the company “remains committed” to building long-term physical concepts and retail technologies, citing the recently launched Style store, the first foray into physical clothing stores. The company has also said it will continue to focus on its Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market grocery chains, Amazon Go stores and use Just Walk Out cashless technology.

Amazon has also introduced other experimental retail technologies, such as Amazon One, which allows users to scan a palm to pay for goods, and Dash Carts, a shopping cart filled with sensors that allow shoppers to make payments without a cashier.

Dilip Kumar, the former “shadow” of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is currently in charge of the physical stores division.

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