Microsoft will permanently close almost all of its retail stores

Microsoft is about to (mostly) give up on physical selling. Today, the company announced plans to permanently close all Microsoft Store locations in the United States and worldwide, except for four locations that will remain open and will be “reinvented.”

Those places are New York City (Fifth Avenue), London (Oxford Circus), Sydney (Westfield Sydney) and the Redmond campus. The London store just opened about a year ago. All other Microsoft Store locations in the United States and globally will be closed, and the company will focus on digital retail in the future. Microsoft says and the Xbox and Windows storefronts reach “up to 1.2 billion monthly customers in 190 markets.”

The company has not specified whether the layoffs will occur as a result of the widespread closure of the stores, only saying that “our commitment to the growth and career development of this diverse talent pool is stronger than ever.”

The decision partly explains why Microsoft had not yet reopened a single store after they all closed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Microsoft said The edge that its “approach to reopening Microsoft Store locations is measured and cautious, guided by global data monitoring, listening to public health and safety experts, and tracking local government restrictions.” The company declined to offer an update on when it might open a store again.

Microsoft store in London.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Since many Microsoft stores are located in shopping malls and shopping malls, the continuous closure has not been highlighted as unusual. In the United States, which is taking a cautious approach to restoring retail operations, to prevent a resurgence of the new coronavirus, most shopping malls remain closed. There have already been spikes in COVID-19 cases in regions with more relaxed guidelines, prompting Apple to re-close some stores where it had recently received customers again.

In April, Microsoft described in a blog post how many retail store associates had switched to remote work after their day-to-day jobs were sidelined. The company has continued to provide regular payments to team members during the pandemic. “Our retail team members will continue to serve customers working from within Microsoft’s corporate facilities or remotely and we will continue to develop our diverse team in support of the company’s mission and overall goals,” the company said in the update. from today.

The Microsoft Store debuted in 2009 and closely adhered to Apple’s hit retail playbook. Each store is a showcase for the company’s Surface and Xbox hardware, plus a selection of third-party PCs. Employees were well versed in everything Windows related, and the company also offered in-store events, workshops, customer service, and repairs.