Apple Closes Retail Stores In Florida, Arizona, Carolinas As Coronavirus Cases Rise

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Apple says it’s approaching the recent new spike in U.S. coronavirus cases with an “abundance of caution” and plans to close 11 stores in four states as the rest of the economy reopens.

Apple iPhone
Apple is approaching the new spike in U.S. covid-19 cases with an “abundance of caution,” closing 11 stores in 4 states as the rest of the economy reopens. The Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in Brooklyn, New York, Jan. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Just 8 percent of Apple’s $260 billion in annual sales come from physical retail stores, according to Loup Ventures, a research-driven venture-capital firm.

In mid-March, Apple was one of the first to close about 270 stores in the U.S., and when it reopened some stores in May, staff and customers had to wear masks and have temperature checks, Wall Street Journal reported.

Many people are resisting wearing masks and ignoring social distancing, despite 122,455 deaths and 2,372,813 cases blamed on the virus in the U.S. Some industries are enabling the deniers. For example, airlines are not all enforcing social distancing or masks, despite promises to do so as they try and win back customers. “Flight attendants said they have been told not to confront passengers who opt to not follow them,” New York Times reported.

Apple is taking precautions to protect itself from negative publicity and its staff and customers from covid-19, analysts said. Closing 11 stores — two near Naples, Fla., two near Charlotte, N.C., one near Greenville, S.C., and six in Arizona — shows that Apple is evaluating local information about Covid-19 test results.

After months lockdowns, the progress made towards flattening the curve is losing ground, Associated Press reported.

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Other retailers are likely to follow Apple in making decisions based on local data, said Jean-Emmanuel Biondi, principal in Deloitte Consulting’s retail practice. Reopenings will be faster in the future because companies now have practice and policies in place to operate during a pandemic, including maps to handle foot traffic and flow control from the entrance to checkout counters.

More than 12 states report increased pace of cases over the past week.

The worst thing that could happen would be to reopen and have to close again,” said Charlie Strong, a zone president for McDonald’s U.S. division, during a call with operators.

Half the U.S. states are reporting declines in cases and concerns about a second wave of outbreaks are “overblown,” Vice president Mike Pence wrote in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Instead, Apple’s closures are a concern. They speak to “the volatility and fluidity of this covid environment” and show that retailers will continue to be cautious as “spikes are seen in geographic pockets,” said Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

Apple is planning to host its first-ever virtual annual Worldwide Developers Conference, where it unveils new software and technologies.