CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Check it out for yourself, is Amazon store on the way?

New cashierless shop rumoured

22 April, 2021 — By Tom Foot

The old Evans Cycle shop in Chalk Farm Road

MANY of us may have been looking forward, after a long four months of lockdown, to talking to human beings again – right down to the niceties shared with shopkeepers at the till.

But there will be no time for small talk if rumours become a reality and corporate giant Amazon open a new cashierless superstore in Chalk Farm.

The former Evans Cycles shop in Chalk Farm Road is currently being refurbished amid hot speculation that it will become one Amazon’s new “Fresh” stores.

The concept is a “convenience grocery store” offering a “frictionless experience” with “traffic light systems” for shoppers and self-scanning trolley carts. In perhaps more basic terms: you can walk in and out again without talking to anyone or even having to queue up for a self-checkout machine.

If Amazon move in, it would be the third store of its kind to open in London in recent months as part of a major high street project which the company so far has kept close to its chest.

Rick Stephens, from the industry experts Glenigan, said the company was known to have earmarked a site in Chalk Farm for its latest “disruption of the retail landscape”, adding: “The new stores appear to open up overnight with little evidence that the new outlets will be an Amazon Fresh until the doors are just about to open.

“Amazon Fresh stores have the potential to act as hubs for speedy urban deliveries and grocery pick-ups. This will undoubtedly be cause for concern for established high street retailers who are generally making a loss on local deliveries.”

Amazon told the New Journal this week that it never comments on speculation, when given the chance to clarify whether or not it was moving into the site, close to where Morrisons is undergoing a major facelift at its long-standing supermarket.

But Town Hall documents show last June, a licensing application was approved for a “retail store selling general grocery and home goods” with the sale of alcohol “from a small designated area”. The licensing application came through a Covent Garden-based law firm and did not mention Amazon.

This year, a planning application for an expansion of the doorway was approved by the council, again through an agent.

The “walk out” store system works with shoppers signing in to their trolley by scanning a QR code on their phone. The trolley is equipped with cameras that identify items as they’re placed in bags inside the cart, with a built-in scale for fruit and veg. When you remove the bag, your Amazon account is charged.

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