Microsoft announced today that it will largely step back from retail. The company will permanently close all Microsoft Store locations globally, except for four stores that will remain open.
Microsoft emphasized that Microsoft.com and the Xbox and Windows storefronts reach "up to 1.2 billion monthly customers in 190 markets." The company said that it will focus on digital retail moving forward.
Global retail store closures
The four Microsoft store locations that will remain open are New York City (Fifth Ave), London (Oxford Circus), Sydney (Westfield Sydney), and the Redmond campus location. All other locations worldwide will close.
As The Verge points out, the announcement is surprising as Microsoft opened their big London store as recently as last year. Before the announcement was made, Microsoft had yet to re-open any stores following restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The computing giant has not said whether layoffs will follow the announcement and only stated that, "our commitment to growing and developing careers from this diverse talent pool is stronger than ever."
Continuing to serve customers digitally
In April, Microsoft described in a blog post, how many of its retail store associates had started working remotely after their everyday jobs were sidelined due to COVID-19. The company, which recently tested 4-day work weeks in Japan, has continued to pay its team members throughout the pandemic.
“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 announcement.
The first Microsoft Store opened in 2009 and was somewhat of a clone of the successful Apple retail store model. Each store showcased Microsoft's Xbox and Surface hardware, as well as a selection of third-party PCs. Unfortunately for some, getting to one of these stores will now only be possible in very few select locations.