Amazon’s $13.7bn acquisition of Whole Foods has moved a step closer after the grocer’s shareholders voted in favour of the deal.

Investors approved the merger with the online titan following a vote at Whole Foods’ headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The deal, which would be the biggest in the retail sector this year, will now be subject to regulatory approval.

Amazon and Whole Foods expect to finalise the acquisition before the end of the year.

The shareholder approval comes two months after Amazon agreed to buy the upmarket grocer in an audacious push into bricks and mortar.

Whole Foods has around 460 stores, including several in the UK.

Amazon has made a concerted play for grocery spend through ventures such as Fresh, which launched in the UK last year.

It has also shown an increasing interest in marrying its online power with ownership of stores.

After opening its first bookshop in Seattle in 2015, it has built a seven-strong books chain in its homeland.

It is also piloting Amazon Go – a store that allows customers to shop for groceries without having to pay at a checkout – at its Seattle headquarters.