It might feel as though it just happened, but it was back in March when Verizon shut down most of its company-owned stores in the U.S. Some authorized resellers stayed open for business. Earlier this week, a tweet from the CEO of Verizon's Consumer Group, Ronan Dunne, indicated that Verizon will have 42% of its retail stores open this week up from 30% last month. Next month, the nation's leading carrier hopes to have half of its company-owned locations open.
According to Wave7 Research (via LightReading), at the peak 70% of Verizon's company-owned stores shut while 91% of the locations owned by authorized resellers remained opened. Cellphone stores are considered essential and are not forced to close because of the pandemic. That's because it is important to stay connected with family and friends during these times when most of us remain locked down. In addition, many are working from home and many students are having their lessons streamed to them.
Dunne also pointed out the "touchless" options that Verizon is giving its customers including social distance markings in the stores, sanitizing stations, partitions that separate Verizon employees from customers, a 15% reduction in demo devices on display and a 50% cut in demo accessories that consumers can touch. Appointments will need to be made to visit a Verizon store at which time the consumer will be informed that a face covering is required inside the location, and the consumer must acknowledge that he/she does not have COVID-19. A mobile check-in process is available through the My Verizon app and cash payments are completed using the bill paying kiosk inside the store.
Wave7 says that 48% of AT&T's stores are currently open while 55% of T-Mobile's locations are up and running. In a statement, AT&T said, "Our top priority is the health and safety of our employees and customers as we reopen our stores to perform the critical work of keeping millions of people connected. We provide our employees with the tools they need to help stay safe while on the job during this difficult time. We continue to follow federal, state, and local guidelines to protect our employees and customers."
Verizon says that the store closings will partly be responsible for second quarter revenue in its consumer and business groups that will be 3% to 5% less than originally expected.. The original forecasts were made before the COVID-19 outbreak.