Microsoft Corp. is getting out of the retail brick-and-mortar business.
The software and cloud giant announced that, as part of a “new approach to retail,” it will permanently shutter all its Microsoft Store physical locations. Four high-profile stores — Manhattan (Fifth Ave.), London (Oxford Circus), Sydney, Australia (Westfield Sydney) and Redmond, Washington — will be turned into "Microsoft Experience Centers" where customers will be able to experience product, see demos, explore device bars and learn about technology. (All purchasing will be fulfilled via the company's digital storefronts, including Microsoft.com.)
"We will also offer consultations for small business and education customers and host trainings for our enterprise customers, and will continue to offer a range of community events and workshops," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
The company, whose stores have been dark since March due to the pandemic, said its retail employees will continue to serve customers providing sales, training, and support, working from Microsoft corporate facilities or remotely.
Microsoft expects to record a charge of $450 million, or $0.5 a share, during the current fiscal fourth quarter, for asset write-offs and impairments.
"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," said corporate VP David Porter. "We deliberately built teams with unique backgrounds and skills that could serve customers from anywhere. The evolution of our workforce ensured we could continue to serve customers of all sizes when they needed us most, working remotely these last months. It is a new day for how Microsoft Store team members will serve all customers.”
The Microsoft Store made its official debut in 2009, in Scottsdale, Arizona, and was seen by industry experts as an attempt to copy Apple’s success in the retail arena. The company went on to open stores across the U.S., primarily in malls.