Microsoft announced today they would be closing all of their 82 retail stores worldwide. This particular move does not appear to be motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it does seem to have been facilitated by it.
Corporate Vice President David Porter stated, "Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location. We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers, and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations."
Since Microsoft Stores were closed back around March, retail staff members have reportedly been working remotely. The announcement states that Microsoft Store staff have been helping out small businesses and educators to get up and running with remote work solutions and distance learning systems. Their experiences will be "building a pipeline of talent with transferable skills." Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan commented, "The Microsoft Store team has long been celebrated at Microsoft and embodies our culture. The team has a proven track record of attracting, motivating, and developing diverse talent. This infusion of talent is invaluable for Microsoft and creates opportunities for thousands of people."
In the same announcement, Microsoft indicated they would be building four "Microsoft Experience Centers" in Redmond, New York City, Sydney, and London. This move is purported to "reimagine spaces that serve all customers," made in tandem with their stated intention to invest in their digital storefronts.
Fiscally, the closure is going to cost Microsoft some money, with pre-tax charges of approximately $450 million, or roughly a nickel a share. The move comes just a few days before the end of the current fiscal quarter for the company. This particular move will undoubtedly be noted and closely watched when the current crisis ends.