business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Amazon appears to be continuing to pay the rent on the site of a “365 by Whole Foods” store in Bellevue Square, in Bellevue, Washington, that it closed in 2017 after it significantly underperformed.

That closure was contested by the landlord, who said that Whole Foods had a 10-year lease on the location and that closure of the store hurt the image of the mall to which it was attached. A judge ruled that Amazon was within its rights to close the store, and that it was up to the landlord to decide whether to rent it out to someone else or keep collecting rent from Amazon.

If Amazon still is paying for the location, the Business Journal suggests, this could be significant in view of stories suggesting that it now is planning to open supermarkets in various markets that will not be branded as Whole Foods; this location could be an easy place to begin the experiment.

Except for the fact that it isn’t a great location for a supermarket. I never liked it for the 365 store, and cannot imagine it would be a place where Amazon could get an accurate reading about the viability of any new concept. I suggested at the time of the closure that if Amazon still had to pay rent on the location, it ought to turn the space into a showcase for all its technologies, including smart home appliances, which might actually get people to go out of their way to visit.

• The Associated Press reports that “the French government unveiled plans Wednesday to slap a 3 percent tax on the French revenues of internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook, saying that the tax could raise more than $500 million (US) a year. The story says that “about 30 companies, mostly based from the U.S, but also from China and Europe, will be affected.”

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference that “this is about justice. These digital giants use our personal data, make huge profits out of these data … then transfer the money somewhere else without paying their fair amount of taxes.”
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