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The Internet Ate Its Lunch: Bose To Close 119 Stores

High-end electronics retailer Bose Corp. is planning to close all of its retail locations in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia, a total of 119 stores.

The privately held company opened its first physical store in the early 1990s in the United States.


In announcing the closures, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based retailer cited e-commerce as a major factor in its decision, The Verge reports. Simply put, its headphones, speakers, sunglasses and other offerings are now commonly bought online, both from its own site, which is not closing, and third-party retailers.

The company will also not close its 130 or so physical stores in other parts of the world, including locations in East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. 

Bose didn't cite a reason for retaining stores in those parts of the world, even in China, where e-commerce penetration is high. Consumer electronics revenue growth as a whole is forecast to be robust in China in the early 2020s, along with the number of consumers who buy electronics.

U.S. electronics stores have been particularly susceptible to the slings and arrows of market forces in recent years, with the graveyard of physical brands filling up with the RadioShacks and H.H. Greggs of the world. Other forces besides e-commerce have also been at work, such as competition from aggressive surviving chains like Best Buy

As a retail sector, U.S. electronics has been marked by sluggish or declining sales recently. The Census Bureau reports that sales at electronics stores dropped 0.7% in December 2019 compared to the same month a year earlier, almost the only retail category to lose ground year-over-year that month (department stores were the other loser) despite an overall strong economy.