Apple Just Shuttered 1/5 of Its Retail Stores as the COVID-19 Pandemic Surges

Apple Store The Grove Los Angeles California Credit: Apple
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Even with a hope of a COVID-19 vaccine looming on the horizon, it’s clear we’re not out of the woods yet in terms of the global health pandemic, and Apple has just responded to recent surges in key U.S. states and various other places in the world by once again shutting down its retail operations.

Since the very beginning of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, Apple’s retail stores have been a good barometer of the risks in various communities, since Apple is one of the few companies with a social conscience and sufficiently deep enough pockets to weather the economics of such closures.

In fact, Apple has been one of the only major worldwide retailers to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic proactively, shuttering all of its stores outside of China back in March, long before government pressure or regulation would have required the company to do so.

Similarly, Apple CEO Tim Cook and retail chief Deirdre O’Brien made it clear that Apple wouldn’t be pressured to open any of its stores until it was deemed safe to do so, and with only one exception — it’s lone South Korean store — all of Apple’s other 457 stores remained closed until early May.

In fact, this persisted in most areas even after lockdown restrictions were otherwise lifted by local health authorities; in few cases was Apple the first company to reopen its stores, choosing instead to keep them closed despite the loss of billions of dollars in revenue.

Apple began re-opening locations in Australia and some European countries in early May, followed by a handful of stores in the U.S. and Canada a few weeks later. However, Apple’s executives were crystal clear that they would not hesitate to close down stores again if the health situation got worse in any communities.

While Apple has opened and closed stores sporadically for this reason over the past few months, and moved many to Express storefronts for the holiday shopping season to maximize social distancing, it looks like with less than a week until Christmas, Apple has begun shutting down dozens of its stores entirely as COVID-19 cases rise in key areas.

California and Beyond

The new round of shutdowns began with all of its Los Angeles stores last Friday, as reported by Bloomberg, with two stores shutting down right away on Friday, and eleven other local stores closing their doors on Saturday. Apple shared no word on when they would re-open.

The move came as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases in L.A., which is now considered the worst-hit metropolitan area in the U.S., with well over 1,000 cases per million residents.

However, Apple didn’t stop with L.A., very quickly shutting down its stores entirely in the rest of California this weekend, although some are still running on minimal staff in order to fulfill customers who still have orders waiting for pickup or scheduled genius bar appointments.

Beyond California, Apple has also shut down all of its stores in Tennessee, along with 16 stores located in the U.K.’s Tier 4 restrictions zones, plus 18 stores in Germany and the Netherlands, and the four stores in Mexico and Brazil.

As 9to5Mac notes, this now brings the total number of retail stores that Apple has shut down to over one-fifth of Apple retail stores worldwide. As of this writing, 401 of Apple’s 509 locations still remain open, however, almost all of these have moved to Express Storefront pickup for online orders and Genius support appointments, with walk-in shopping either disallowed entirely or limited to popular Apple products.

There’s no word on when any of these stores will be reopening, although you can check the status of your local store on Apple’s Retail Stores page, which will show modified hours and information on the mode in which the store is operating.

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