Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Apple closes its retail stores outside Greater China until March 27

The move is aimed to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. The sales hit remains to be seen.

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Apple said it is closing all of its retail stores outside of China until March 27. Stores within China have reopened following the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement, Apple said the company will continue to provide service online but made the decision to close stores to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. Apple said it will deep clean its stores, move to flexible work arrangements outside of China and will continue to pay hourly workers.

Meanwhile, Apple moved its developer conference online.

How the physical retail closure impacts Apple's revenue remains to be seen. Details about retail sales are rolled into Apple's geographic reporting in regulatory filings. However, Apple said 31% of its sales were direct in fiscal 2019. That sum would include physical retail as well as digital sales and services.

According to Statistica, Apple has 271 stores in the US. 9to5Mac puts the global Apple Store footprint at 510.

In addition, Apple stores also go beyond just retail purchases in that they offer services, provide a point to trade-in devices and are a way to access AppleCare. There will be an obvious revenue hit from the global store closures just as there will be from the China retail closures.

In Apple's recent earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook highlighted the impact of the company's retail footprint. "The retail stores did fantastic on iPhone, very strong double-digit growth in iPhone from a year-over-year point of view. And one of the

factors that enabled that was the -- getting to monthly payments on the Apple Card to make it very simple. Of course, that's U.S.-only at this point, but the U.S. is a very key market for us. And so it was an important part of it," said Cook.