An enterprising writer for The Verge did some virtual legwork and found that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has closed nearly 20% of its brick-and-mortar stores around the world.
There are multiple news reports now about the closings, with varying numbers on how many are actually shut, including Apple's own FAQ that includes recognition of the closings, reminders of the protocols in place at the stores still open, and a handy store locator to get the status of the one nearest you. And here's a state-by-state list.
Apple said in a statement reported by Bloomberg: "Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation, and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,"
Investor interest in this goes beyond Apple stock. Retail stores account for a huge chunk of not just real estate investment trusts (REITs) and commercial real estate interests of all kinds but our economy in general.
Will others follow suit? That's an individual decision for millions of proprietors
Many of the closures are in two epicenters of the surging coronavirus plague: London and California. And Apple hasn't said what it means by "temporary," so it's reasonable to assume those stores will reopen based on local conditions. It already has been through the "open-and-close" and "by-appointment only" cycle retail around the world is enduring through the plague of COVID-19.
But what does this mean for brick-and-mortar retail in general, especially now, during this critical holiday season? Will other retailers follow suit? That's a decision each proprietor around our troubled globe must make, at some level of the decision chain and based on so many different factors.
The Millionacres bottom line: No one closes unless they have to
My guess as to whether more retailers will close is "not necessarily." Some outfits, in fact, are still thriving. Plus, Apple has a rock-solid brand and a well-established digital sales pipeline -- supported by third-party retailers (think Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), just for starters) that go astronomically beyond Apple's own 509 retail locations (271 in the U.S.).
Most other stores, from big chains to mom-and-pops of all kinds, don't have that luxury, if you can call it that, of closing temporarily or otherwise. Tens of thousands of stores have closed, just as many may well be on the brink, and bankruptcies are piling up.
For these retailers to stay in business, they have to be available. If they can at all stay open, my guess is they will, each making their own corporate or individual decisions (based on what local authorities are allowing, of course) as everyone waits for vaccines to take hold and people to feel safe to go out shopping en masse again.