Microsoft Is Permanently Closing Its Retail Stores

Microsoft announced a significant change to its Microsoft Store plans on Friday by confirming its [...]

Microsoft announced a significant change to its Microsoft Store plans on Friday by confirming its plans to permanently shut down the company's retail locations. Retail workers employed at those locations will instead assist with the company's online storefront through sales, training, and support efforts, Microsoft said. The company will now focus on its online store, but Microsoft Experience Centers located in London, New York City, Sydney, and Redmond will all stay open as Microsoft continues to "reimagine" those spaces to assist customers. This announcement follows Microsoft's previous decision to shut down physical locations for the time being in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

An announcement on Microsoft's news site shared the information about the store closures and how the company would approach the decision. Microsoft said its retail team members would stay on board to assist customers but did not specify if all employees would have that opportunity. Since closing down physical locations as a coronavirus precaution, Microsoft said its retail teams have been helping small business and customers via support calls.

"As part of our business plan, we announced a strategic change in our retail operations, including closing Microsoft Store physical locations," said corporate vice president David Porter in a separate message. "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."

Porter's message said Microsoft would continue to focus on its digital storefronts amid the closure of the physical locations. He added that in addition to tools like virtual customer support and online tutorials, the company is working on a new one-on-one video sales support service to assist customers.

Microsoft's physical locations were set up not too differently from Apple's retail establishments in that it had a mix of products, software and hardware, for people to browse with Microsoft employees on standby to assist with purchases or other matters. The stores also housed Xbox products like consoles, games, and accessories, though purchasing games digitally has been becoming more popular for a long time now. Microsoft would occasionally hold tournaments in its retail locations and would offer demos of upcoming and newly released games.

The store closures follow another big update from Microsoft shared this week when it was announced Mixer would be shutting down. Mixer is Microsoft's streaming service competing alongside Twitch that attracted entertainers over from the Amazon competitor with big payouts, but it's now being shut down on July 22nd.