Microsoft has announced plans to close all of its retail stores around the world permanently.
The company currently has 83 stores around the world, including seven in Canada (three in Ontario, two in B.C. and two in Alberta).
In a LinkedIn blog post, Microsoft Store vice president David Porter said there will be no layoffs due to the closures. Instead, all affected employees will be offered alternative positions, said Porter.
Microsoft says its online sales have continued to grow over time, leading to its decision to down close brick-and-mortar locations and renew its focus on online business. To that end, the company will continue to sell products on its website and offer customer service remotely. The company says it plans to offer more digital solutions for customers than ever before, including 1:1 video chat support, online tutorial videos and virtual workshops.
It’s worth noting, though, that Microsoft Stores didn’t just sell products, as they also have served as a way for consumers to try out the company’s various devices, such as the Windows Mixed Reality headset or the Xbox One X. Further, tournaments for games like Halo 5: Guardians, Dota 2 and League of Legends have also been held at Microsoft Stores.
Of course, Canadians who still want to purchase Microsoft products in-store can always go to a Best Buy, The Source, Walmart or other electronics retailer.
According to The Verge, Microsoft was originally looking to shutter its stores next year, but COVID-19 related closures over the past few months altered these plans. Microsoft likely wanted to wait until next year since it has a major product lineup for this holiday season, which includes the next-gen Xbox Series X, Surface Duo phone and foldable Surface Neo tablet (for now, at least).
That said, thing have changed drastically in a short period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the company is clearly looking to adapt accordingly.