Shopping center

Amazon Fresh store under construction in Braintree Shopping Center

BRAINTREE – Construction of an Amazon Fresh grocery store off Route 3 is underway.

Braintree’s planning board has approved the retail giant’s plan to turn the former Saks Off 5th and 5.11 tactical spaces into a 37,500 square foot Amazon Fresh store in the Grossman Drive mall.

Construction includes changes to the storefront, entrance and walkway, as well as the installation of corrals for shopping carts.

According to the Amazon website, there are no Fresh stores in Massachusetts.

Amazon’s first Fresh store, a traditional 35,000 square foot supermarket, opened last year in a mall in Woodland Hills, California.

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Fresh stores include a shopping cart that tallies items as they enter the cart and allows for instant checkout, and Alexa stations throughout the store that can be asked questions.

Customers can enter the store in the traditional way, but if they want to use the shopping cart, they have to open their Amazon app and swipe it. Amazon says the cart will make “a quick grocery trip even faster by letting (shoppers) skip the line.”

Amazon's Dash Cart allows customers at its new Fresh supermarket to pay directly from the cart.

Amazon entered the food business with a bang in 2017 by buying Whole Foods and has expanded with online Fresh stores, which offer food delivery, and Go stores, which offer cashier-less shopping in a store that monitors purchases with aerial cameras.

Fresh is different from Whole Foods, said Jeff Helbling, vice president of Amazon’s Fresh stores. Organic produce is featured at Whole Foods, while Fresh offers a wider variety of foods, he said.

“It meets a different consumer need,” he said.

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The stores also serve as pickup and drop-off locations for other Amazon orders.

Fresh produce stores can be found in California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington State and Washington, D.C.

An Amazon dashboard.

Amazon applied to Braintree’s planning department as “Seritage KMT Finance LLC” and said in a letter to the city that the rendering “includes a fictitious name for confidentiality purposes.”

When contacted by email and asked if an Amazon Fresh was coming to Braintree, a company representative said, “Amazon does not comment on rumors or speculation.”

The former Saks Off 5th and 5.11 tactical spaces in Braintree are set to become a 37,500 square foot Amazon Fresh store.

McMahon Associates, an engineering and traffic planning firm, said the new Braintree store will result in approximately 44 new vehicle trips during the weekday afternoon rush hour and about 45 additional trips during the noon Saturday rush hour.

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USA Today’s Jefferson Graham contributed to this report. Contact Mary Whitfill at [email protected]