Microsoft announced today that it will permanently close all of its retail stores and reassign those employees to other locations. It will continue operating four Microsoft Experience Centers.
“As part of our business plan, we [are] closing Microsoft Store physical locations,” a horribly-worded announcement, on LinkedIn of all places, reads. “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.”
Microsoft is blaming the closures on COVID-19, but let’s face it, these stores have been failing for years and have never approached even a tiny percentage of the foot traffic that Apple sees with its own retail stores.
But Microsoft also notes that its hardware and software sales have continued to shift online as its offerings have evolved to be largely digital, and its retail workforce has likewise evolved during the pandemic to serve customers remotely.
Whatever the reason, it’s over.
Going forward, Microsoft says it will “reimagine” existing facilities in London, New York City, Sydney, and Redmond to help serve its customers. But it’s not clear if they are referring to retail locations or other facilities. (UPDATE: The four locations are so-called Microsoft Experience Centers, according to the firm. These locations will not have retail sales.) And it will pump up its digital storefronts and virtual support offerings.