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Amazon: No, we're not opening 2,000 stores

The online retailer responds to heated rumors that it may open hundreds or thousands of new physical locations.

Jaap Arriens, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Can't wait to shop at an Amazon supermarket? Well, you may have to wait a very, very long time.

Two days after The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to open "more than 2,000 brick-and-mortar grocery stores under its name," the company knocked down the idea as false.

"It's absolutely not correct," Amazon spokeswoman Pia Arthur said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "We have no plans to open 2,000 of anything. Not even close. We are still learning."

The online retailer also batted down the claim by the publication that Amazon envisions opening a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot store that would resemble a discount grocery chain like Aldi.

"No plans to build such a store," she added.

Amazon's comments likely dash some consumers' hopes that the e-commerce giant would upend physical retail with new concepts and innovations, as well as mall and store operators' interest in bringing new life to their industry. The company's statements also may calm concerns that its plans for an automated convenience store called Amazon Go won't suddenly put thousands of grocery store workers out of business.

Rumors that Amazon might be planning to build hundreds or thousands of new retail stores bubbled up a lot this year. In February, the chief executive of a company that runs malls said Amazon sought to open as many as 400 bookstores. After heated attention to the statement, he pulled back his comment.

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In October, Business Insider reported the idea that Amazon was planning to open "up to 2,000 grocery stores" in the US, citing documents the publication reviewed. The Journal on Monday repeated that same figure in its story, citing unnamed sources.

There is, of course, good reason to wonder whether Amazon may be planning to open many more stores. After pioneering e-commerce for the past 20 years, the company could become a big influence in physical retail. With less than 10 percent of US retail sales online, there's also a lot of potential new sales Amazon could capture with stores.

However, Amazon so far has only taken baby steps opening its own stores. It created its first bookstore in Seattle last year and opened two more since then. Two additional stores will open soon.

On Monday, Amazon unveiled a new convenience store concept called Amazon Go, which allows shoppers to buy their items by just picking them up off the shelf and leaving. The Seattle store opens to the public next year.

The company has also developed pop-up stores in malls and college bookstores.

CEO Jeff Bezos didn't do much to quell the rumors in May during a shareholder meeting.

"We're definitely going to open additional stores," he said. "How many we don't know yet."