Apple has shut down its retail stores outside of mainland China since mid-March to battle the spread of COVID-19 . But there appears to be a plan to bring those stores back online--albeit in a way that may take some time to complete.
In a leaked memo to staff obtained by Bloomberg, Apple Senior Vice President of People and Retail Deirdre O'Brien said that the company is planning to reopen its retail stores "in the first half of April." However, O'Brien noted that Apple will reopen the stores "on a staggered basis" and cautioned that changes on the ground could affect actual timelines.
Apple closed 458 retail stores across the world earlier this month to help governments stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect its employees and customers. Apple had initially said that it would reopen the stores on March 27, but quietly changed a notice on its website to say that they would be closed until further notice.
Now that we have some insight into Apple's plan, it could give other companies a gameplan for how they should consider rolling out their retail strategy.
Apple was one of the first major retailers to close its stores in response to COVID-19. Soon after, many other retailers followed suit. Using Apple as a barometer for retail decision-making, it's possible other retail stores, where possible, could reopen in the same areas at the same time.
Of course, actually doing so requires COVID-19 spread to not be a problem in the area. Apple and other retailers would also need to consider whether local regulations block retail stores from reopening.
Whether you're in the retail business or you are in any way reliant upon it, now is the time to keep a close eye on Apple. There's a good chance that the company will be an early mover on reopening its retail stores. There's a good chance other companies will follow soon after. Their success could determine yours.