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Bose to close all of its U.S. retail stores in pivot to online shopping

Bose is set to close all 119 of its brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia “over the next several months,” the company revealed on Wednesday, January 15.

The Massachusetts-based audio equipment maker said the decision was prompted by what it described as “a dramatic shift” to online shopping. Pressure from e-commerce in recent years has seen retailers shuttering numerous store locations across the country, with some falling by the wayside altogether.

Job losses at Bose are inevitable, though it said in a statement that it won’t be revealing how many positions are going as a result of the closures. To support those affected, Bose is intending to make severance payments and also offer help to find new work.

“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD, and DVD-based home entertainment systems,” Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, said in a release. “At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it — and we’re doing the same thing now.”

Burke described the decision to close so many stores in key markets as “difficult” because the move “impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day … Over the years, they’ve set the standard for customer service. And everyone at Bose is grateful.”

But not all of its stores are closing down. In China, India, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and the United Arab Emirates, all of Bose’s 130 physical stores will remain open, at least for now.

Bose opened its very first U.S. store in 1993 to offer personal demonstrations for Wave music systems and Lifestyle home theater systems. As smartphones changed the industry, the company’s focus turned to mobile, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi solutions.

“Today, Bose noise-canceling headphones, truly wireless sport earbuds, portable speakers, and smart speakers are increasingly purchased through e-commerce, including; and Bose is a larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for a country or region,” the company said.

While it’s always sad to see a big name exit the retail market, and awful news for those who work at Bose, audiophiles who like to try before they buy will still be able to find Bose gear at big-box stores and other retail locations in the countries that the company is exiting.

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