Retail Carnage Continues: Bose Lays Off 100s, Shutters All Retail Stores

Taking the award for Most Continents Covered While Shrinking Retail Footprint this week is Bose, which will be laying off hundreds of employees to close retail stores across the world. 

The company plans on closing its entire retail footprint in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, according to The Verge. It adds up to a total of 119 stores, according to a spokesperson. The closures are slated to happen "over the next few months".

And the company was direct in why it was making the move: it stated this week that its products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce”.

The company has had a brick and mortar presence since 1993 and has locations across many shopping centers and malls scattered around the U.S. The stores help showcase the company's headphones, speakers and other hardware. But there are usually similar demo areas in stores like Best Buy, which still sells Bose products. 

The company hasn't said exactly how many people would be laid off, stating: 

“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems. At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it — and we’re doing the same thing now.”

Colette Burke, vice president of Global Sales, continued:

"It’s still difficult, because the decision impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day. They take care of every person who walks through our doors – whether that’s helping with a problem, giving expert advice, or just letting someone take a break and listen to great music. Over the years, they’ve set the standard for customer service. And everyone at Bose is grateful.”

The company says it will keep stores open elsewhere:

 “In other parts of the world, Bose stores will remain open, including approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.”

The company also says it is offering outplacement assistance and severance to employees.

Meanwhile, the move may not surprise Zero Hedge readers, as we noted just two days ago that mall vacancies are hitting two-decade highs. 

US retailers announced 9,300 store closings in 2019, according to Coresight, indicating that the retail apocalypse and a massacre of malls are far from over. Mall operators saw a surge of store closures in 2H19 and ahead of Christmas despite a relatively stable consumer that has been leveraging up via the use of credit cards

Barbara Denham, a senior economist at Reis, said one notable trend during the 2019 holiday season was the shift in spending habits from brick and mortar stores to online. Denham said recent vacancy statistics paint a disastrous picture for shopping malls as vacancy rates have surged to a record high of 9.7%.