The Downey Legend

The Problem With Amazon Go!

Jasmine Fernandez, Copy Editor

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News broke on Dec. 5, 2017 that Amazon would branch beyond the online market and open physical stores across the country. The company launched Amazon Go! on Jan. 22 in Seattle, Washington, though consumers have expressed skepticism towards the store’s approach. The store’s draw lies in its “grab and go” technology in which customers swipe their Amazon apps as opposed to waiting for a cashier to pay. Its “wallet-free” technology sounds ideal, but it also begs the question: what does this mean for the future of consumerism and mom-n-pop bodegas?

 

In order to fully understand the degree to which Amazon could hurt cities: we have to reevaluate the definition of “gentrification.” According to Merriam-Webster, gentrification is defined as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents,” implying a significant rise in the price of living as well as the decrease of jobs attainable to those displaced residents. While the physical stores probably won’t destroy Seattle’s socioeconomic balance overnight, they imply a future change that may or may not put corner stores and bodegas out of business. Amazon continues to flaunt Go!’s employee-less experience, save for the one or two employees manning alcohol aisles and restocking shelves – in a country where the unemployment rate is just now beginning to improve, is the beginning of a digital store chain a red flag?

 

Seattle isn’t the only problem; if Amazon decides to expand to cities across the country, the results could prove disastrous for local communities already stricken by the effects of gentrification. For example, New York City and Los Angeles have faced a crisis for years as neighborhoods shifted from primarily low-income inhabitants to upper middle class families that have completely morphed the community around them. Mike Maciag of Governing Magazine noted in his “Gentrification of America Report” that “neighborhoods gentrifying since 2000 recorded population increases and became whiter, with the share of non-Hispanic white residents increasing an average of 4.3 percentage points.” With a whopping 47.5 million Americans living in low income families according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Census Bureau, gentrification, particularly of these people’s access to affordable groceries and the job market, begs for change in a backwards direction.

Although this is only the beginning of Amazon’s Go! campaign, the prospects are already concerning. For more information on the store, visit www.amazon.com/go.

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The Problem With Amazon Go!