Apple's first store in China, located in downturn Beijing's Sanlitun area, will close down, as its new flagship branch is set to open in the same area. The move comes at a time when a good number of its stores outside China remain shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple Store Sanlitun was opened in July 2008, right before Beijing held the 2008 Olympic Games. Apple will open a new, significantly larger store also in Sanlitun on Friday. Wednesday will be the current store's last opening day.
The new store will be Apple's second flagship branch globally, and its biggest in Asia-Pacific region. It was initially scheduled to open in March, according to a January statement from the Chaoyang district office under the Beijing Municipal Commission of Planning and Natural Resources. Apple's first flagship store is in New York.
In the 12 years since Apple opened its first store in China, the California-based technology giant has expanded its number of its retail shops to 42 across 14 provinces in the Chinese mainland.
In April, after the coronavirus epidemic eased in China, Apple sold 3.9 million iPhones in the country due to pent-up demand, according to Shanghai-based CINNO Research. But that figure dropped to 3.6 million in May.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg cited a video message sent to Apple employees saying the company is pushing retail staff to work remotely as the coronavirus forces it to shut some of its stores because COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the U.S. and some other countries.
More than 90 of Apple's 271 U.S. retail shops have had to close again, Bloomberg reported.
The U.S. now has more than 3.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with a death toll surpassing 136,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.