BIZ-MICROSOFT-RETAIL-CLOSING-DMT

Microsoft is not planning to reopen its retail stores, which have been closed since March.

Microsoft said Friday it will close its retail stores, in a change of strategy driven by its focus on digital sales.

The company’s physical retail stores closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft operates stores in Seattle and about 80 other locations across the U.S. and Canada. It has single stores in London and in Sydney, Australia.

“The company’s retail team members will continue to serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training, and support,” the company said in a statement. “Microsoft will continue to invest in its digital storefronts on Microsoft.com, and stores in Xbox and Windows, reaching more than 1.2 billion people every month in 190 markets.”

Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in the statement that “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.”

The company added that it will “reimagine spaces that serve all customers, including operating Microsoft Experience Centers in London, NYC, Sydney, and Redmond campus locations.”

Closing its retail stores will result in a pretax charge of about $450 million, the company said.

Physical retail stores of all sorts have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with many marginal retailers pushed to the brink and stronger companies emphasizing online sales.

As Microsoft’s products are mostly delivered digitally in the first place, the stores primarily have served as a showpiece for its offerings and a place to advise individual customers.