Apple not reopening retail stores until May: report

Apple retail stores will stay closed until at least early May, according to a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg. 

That’s a push back from the mid-April reopen target for some stores that the iPhone-maker appeared hopeful for just last week.

The update, sent to employees by Apple’s SVP of Retail and People Deirdre O’Brien, said that all U.S. retail store closures, along with work from home policies will remain in place through early May because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. O’Brien added that Apple continues to keep daily tabs on local conditions for each Apple facility, according to the Bloomberg report.

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An earlier company memo had stated that the iPhone-maker would look to open some store locations within the first half of April on a staggered basis, depending on the virus outbreak situation in the local community.

Since then, however, the White House extended social distancing guidelines for another month until May, with much of the country under state and local stay-at-home orders. By Friday the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. climbed to more than 244,000, according to the New York Times, while globally cases have risen above 1 million.  

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Apple first decided to temporarily shutter all retail stores outside of Greater China in mid-March, with a tentative reopen date of March 27. The tech giant pushed back that timeline, starting with a notice on its website stating stores were closed “until further notice,” as the coronavirus continued to spread in communities across the country and Americans were urged to stay home and nonessential businesses to close.

As early as February, Apple had warned the new coronavirus outbreak in China at the time would impact revenue expectations for the quarter because of restricted iPhone production impacting global sales, along with lowered device demand in the country.

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The company has since reopened all of its stores in China after closing to help stem the virus spread, but residents in Apple markets around the globe are experiencing various forms of lockdown. In the U.S., mobile carriers have also temporarily shuttered thousands of company-owned stores across the country.

Apple has 458 stores closed, including its roughly 270 in the U.S., according to Bloomberg.

While those won’t reopen for another month, it appears Apple is still ready to launch its price-friendly iPhone 9, according to information learned by 9to5Mac. The device will reportedly be marketed as the iPhone SE, a successor to the popular version with the same name. Prices have not been confirmed, but is rumored to cost just $399, offering 64GB, 128GB or 256GB storage options. Apple could debut and start taking orders for the phone as early as Friday, the report said.