Amazon debuts grocery pick-up concept
Amazon has opened its latest grocery initiative, which takes a direct hit at the “click and collect” pickup services that more and more supermarket retailers are offering.
AmazonFresh Pickup is a drive-by grocery delivery service that allows Amazon Prime members to order groceries online and pick them up in as little as 15 minutes. The fledgling concept, which has opened two locations in Seattle, is still in a beta mode and open to Amazon employees. (Amazon is using the same strategy for its convenience store concept, Amazon Go.)
Here’s how the new service works: Shoppers order online from AmazonFresh’s selection, which features “thousands of grocery items available at low prices — including high-quality meats, fresh produce, bread, dairy, household essentials and more,” according to the company’s website.
After ordering, they reserve a pick-up time (starting at 15 minutes after the order is placed) and drive to the selected Pickup location. Shoppers pull into a parking space, and Amazon employees load the groceries directly into the customers’ cars.
“AmazonFresh Pickup is a fast and easy way to order groceries, pick them up, and be on your way in minutes,” Amazon says in an FAQ. “Whether you’re shopping for your weekly groceries or picking up a last-minute item, we have thousands of grocery items available at low prices — including high-quality meats, fresh produce, bread, dairy, household essentials and more.”
The service is free and exclusive to Amazon Prime members, unlike the company’s AmazonFresh delivery service, which costs $14.99 per month. There is no minimum order.
No more tax-free shopping on Amazon
The party is over for shoppers that enjoyed tax-free online shopping — on Amazon, anyway.
Starting on April 1, Amazon will collect sales tax from all states that have a tax levy. Only the five states that do not have a state sales tax — Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Montana and New Hampshire — will remain exempt.
In reality, tax-free shopping at Amazon has been in a slow state of decline for some time. The online giant has been continually adding new states to its list of jurisdictions that collect sales tax. On April 1, the final four holdouts — Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, and New Mexico—will be added to the list, meaning that shoppers will be paying taxes in the 45 states with states sales taxes.
Tax will be applied to items sold on Amazon, as well as subsidiaries. Gift card purchases are not subject to sales tax, but orders paid for with gift cards may be subject to tax, according to Amazon’s website.
Forbesreported that the decision to charge sales tax falls under the ruling of a 1992 Supreme Court case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, that deemed online and catalog retailers couldn’t collect sales taxes unless they had a physical presence where the buyer is located. As Amazon, and other online retailers, expand their breadth however, these companies can justify collecting taxes.
Merchants gaining more leverage over landlords in Manhattan
Plummeting retail occupancy rates have Manhattan landlords in a generous mood.
According to a Bloomberg report, Manhattan landlords are offering their retail clients such giveaways as interior redesigns and moving expenses to keep storefronts from going dark.
“We’re seeing tenant-improvement and concession packages that retail landlords never, ever contemplated before,” said Steve Soutendijk, an executive director at brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc., in the report.
The move comes after landlords pushed leasing costs in certain parts of Manhattan to record highs, particularly on Fifth Avenue (from 49th to 60 streets), during the past five years.
But a number of factors, including a strong U.S. dollar that cut into tourist spending, tepid demand for luxury goods and the growth of online, have made retailers more cautious about the cost of setting up shop in Manhattan. Space availability on Fifth Avenue is at a record high, the report said.
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