The days of walking past Microsoft’s Store in Pitt Street Mall and thinking “I could go in and buy a Surface or an Xbox” are now gone.
As Australia slowly returns to normal — slowly, steadily, so we don’t go back to the frustrations of the past few months — you may have noticed not everything has returned to the way it once was.
Signing your name to a registry before you enter a cafe, sitting further apart from other patrons, and regular use of hand sanitiser so much that you’ll likely need to carry moisturiser and hand lotion just to offset the cleanliness with how dry your hands are getting too — these have all become new regularities in a post-COVID lifestyle, as has a change in how we shop.
Paying with cash was on its last legs before this began, and the coronavirus crisis practically pushed it off a cliff, with contactless payments in mobile and card taking over, with a similar thing happening in physical retail store presence versus the online world. More of us are shopping online these days, and some stores aren’t opening. And if the stores open, there will most likely be an allowance for fewer people in the store at a time, increasing wait time.
Online is the place to be for shopping without wait, it seems, and while we suspect clothing stores won’t immediately suffer — shopping for clothing, for instance, can be very different compared with shopping for other things in your life — electronics and computer stores may be some of the first obvious fallouts. There will obviously be some that stick around, because it’s always nice to know you can drop into a store and pick up a gadget, accessory, or something else, but don’t be surprised to hear about a closing here and there.
Such as what’s happening with Microsoft, which is closing its stores around the world, including its one and only store in Australia, Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall store, what is also known as a “Microsoft Experience Centre” because it’s more of a demonstration space with retail possibilities than merely a retail outlet store.
While Microsoft Store locations have been closed since late-March anyway, much like how other stores closed, the decision to not re-open like other outlets is more of a global one, and Microsoft will close the entire bunch permanently, noting that Microsoft will “reimagine spaces that serve all customers” such as the one in Sydney. What this means isn’t entirely known, except that it probably won’t include a cash register and may end up being a demo space for workshops, something Microsoft has used its Sydney store for in the past.
As for where you can buy Microsoft’s technology, including computers, video game systems, and virtual reality and mixed reality gear, that will move online and to other retailers in Australia, which has been the case for long enough as it is. Essentially, nothing really changes for most people, with the only major difference being Australia’s only Microsoft Store sitting closed for a while more, until we learn what Microsoft says when it plans to “reimagine” its space.