According to The Verge, today, Microsoft announced plans to permanently close almost all its retail stores around the world. However, the company will not cease to do its business normally. Nevertheless, the company will keep four of its retail stores open. According to reports, the four stores are in New York City (Fifth Avenue), London (Oxford Plaza), Sydney (Westfield), and Redmond Park.
While most of its physical retail stores will be shut, the company will focus on digital retail. Microsoft said that the online stores of Microsoft.com, Xbox, and Windows have 1.2 billion customers per month in 190 markets. With this huge number, it does not really see the need for maintaining the physical stores.
Microsoft will now maintain digital retail
Microsoft did not specify whether it would lay off staff due to the closure of a large number of stores. However, the company said that it will continue to develop a diverse team to support its overall mission and goals. This partly explains why all Microsoft stores have not reopened after their initial closure due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The closure of these stores went unnoticed because most of Microsofts stores are in shopping centers and malls. Of course, many of these malls and shopping complexes are not running their normal operations. This is because they are still taking precautionary measures against a further spread of the new coronavirus. There have already been spikes of COVID-19 cases in regions with more relaxed guidelines, which has led Apple to re-close some stores where it had only recently welcomed customers back in. Since many of these malls are not fully open yet, it is hard to notice that Microsoft stores are now permanently shut.
Back in April, many Microsoft retail associates had to shift to remote work because their everyday jobs became surplus. However, whoever is still in the Microsoft team got support through the pandemic period. “Our retail team members will continue to serve customers working from Microsoft corporate facilities or remotely and we will continue to develop our diverse team in support of the overall company mission and objectives,” the company said in today’s update.
The Microsoft Store retail store debuted in 2009 and closely followed Apple’s successful retail strategy. Each store showcases Microsoft’s Surface and Xbox hardware and some third-party personal computers.