Amazon, the online retailer that has bludgeoned brick-and-mortar stores across the country, plans to set up shop in a most unlikely place: the South Bay’s largest mall.
An Amazon pop-up store is coming to Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance later this month as the online behemoth moves to expand its new chain of physical stores. So far, Seattle-based Amazon has quietly opened more the 30 of the small stores in 15 states that sell the Fire tablet, Kindle E-Readers, voice-controlled gadgets Echo and Alexa and other popular devices, according to a listing on its website.
It also sells apparel and accessories from the stores that are delivered to customers.
But Amazon has released virtually no information about the small stores that have been described as a physical version of its app. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
The 300-square-foot kiosk will open in “early June” on the ground floor in the north end of the mall on Lux Court near Din Tai Fung restaurant, said Lindsay Hermance. Del Amo’s marketing director.
“The Amazon kiosk is especially exciting as it’s the first of its kind to go to market,” Hermance said. “Our customers will get to experience it before many others.”
Locally, Amazon has pop-up stores at the Westfield Santa Anita mall in Arcadia and at the Glendale Galleria. Neither mall responded to a request for comment.
The kiosks are distinct from the Amazon Lockers that have begun popping up locally and allow shoppers to have their packages delivered to a secure location.
Amazon, which has also experimented with a convenience store that has no checkouts, reportedly began opening the stores in November 2015.
Today, it also has seven brick-and-mortar bookstores, while Amazon Fresh Pickup allows customers to order groceries online and then pick them up at a drive through store.
Why Amazon stores?
The entire exercise may seem counter intuitive for a retailer that has driven many record and book store chains out of business and is now doing the same thing to apparel stores and other chains.
But analysts say it enables Amazon to build its brand, showcase its unique lineup of electronic devices and generally become ever more ubiquitous to consumers with a physical presence in the community.
Amazon recently announced that net sales increased by 23 percent to $35.7 billion in the first quarter.
Other retailers have similar experiments going on.
Wal-Mart is testing automated kiosks where customers can pick-up groceries, for instance; Nordstrom and other brick-and-mortar retailers now allow customers to pick up items they have purchased online in stores.
Despite the innovations, traditional retailers keep getting pummeled.
And while Del Amo has proven remarkably resilient so far — it’s almost 94 percent occupied and just announced three other new stores along with the Amazon pop-up location — it’s not immune to the larger trend either.
Luxury retailer Michael Kors, for instance, just announced it will shutter 125 stores — locations were not provided — amid slumping sales. The company said sales at stores open for at least a year slid more than 14 percent in the most recent quarter compared to the same time last year.
Children’s apparel retailer Gymboree also recently announced it was running low on cash and might file for bankruptcy.
Both companies have locations at Del Amo Fashion Center.
And on Thursday, Nordstrom announced it was exploring going private in part to quell the Wall Street rumbling about declining store sales.
Yet for now, Del Amo’s sales are growing and three new stores were just announced:
• Discount retailer famous Footwear will open in July on the mall’s upper level next to Macy’s in a 5,937-square-foot space.
• Jewelry chain Alex Ani, on an expansion kick that will see it open 80 U.S. stores by year’s end, will set up shop at the end of July on Lux Court.
• In August, Japanese pop culture store Sanrio, home to popular lines like Hello Kitty, will open a 1,522-square-foot store in the south end of the mall that’s still under renovation.