AT&T to open 1,000 new stores, could regain retail lead from T-Mobile

AT&T said it will open 100 pop-up stores by the end of the year. (AT&T)

T-Mobile recently passed AT&T in terms of the total number of retail stores it operates. But it appears that AT&T isn’t giving up.

AT&T announced today that it plans to open 1,000 new retail outlets on top of the 5,300 stores it manages today.

“We’re working to make our customer interactions more convenient and seamless,” said Rasesh Patel, AT&T’s SVP of digital, retail and care, in a release. “We designed our new stores to get you in and out quickly while you’re on the go, so you can enjoy more of your thing.”

However, those stores may not all look the same. The operator said its new stores will range from the traditional retail outlet to mobile and pop-up stores. Specifically, AT&T promised to launch a total of 100 pop-up stores this year as well as 150 mobile stores by the end of this year.

AT&T’s announcement comes a few months after T-Mobile reportedly passed AT&T in terms of the total number of retail stores the carrier operates, according to Wave7 Research.

In April, Wall Street research firm MoffettNathanson reported that T-Mobile counted fully 5,300 stores, just ahead of AT&T but far behind Verizon’s 7,400 retail stores. According to MoffettNathanson, Sprint counts around 3,900 stores.

T-Mobile has dramatically increased the number of its retail stores in recent years, growing from 3,600 roughly three years ago. That growth coincides with T-Mobile’s efforts to expand its coverage area via the deployment of 700 MHz and 600 MHz spectrum as well as to grow its addressable customer demographics through plans targeted at seniors and members of the military, for example.

AT&T, for its part, said its expansion coincides with its FirstNet effort. AT&T won the government’s contract to provide wireless services dedicated to public safety users, and as part of that the operator is building out FirstNet’s nationwide 20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum.