Chocolatier Godiva will be shuttering its 128 store and café locations across North America at the end of March, the company announced Sunday, citing a decrease in demand for in-person shopping during the pandemic.
Godiva’s sweet treats will still be available online and inside partnering retail and grocery stores across the continent going forward, the company said. It will maintain in-store operations across Europe, the Middle East and Greater China.
“We have always been focused on what our consumers need and how they want to experience our brand, which is why we have made this decision," CEO Nurtac Afridi said in a statement.
The Belgian chocolate-maker did not disclose the number of employees who will be affected by the North American decision.
“They lost between half their business which is done due to tourists, the other 25 percent of the business which is done due to special occasion, and another 25 percent which is done to impulse,” Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group market research company, told NBC News. “Where's the business coming from? Everything moved to online with great ease.”
“If we're not socializing as much as we did and we're not having special events and special occasions, that's going to impact the business to some degree,” he said.
Godiva is one of the hundreds of thousands of store closures that have come amid a massive decline in in-person shopping during the pandemic.
Other retailers to announce store closures since March include Macy’s, JCPenney, Bed Bath & Beyond, Victoria’s Secret, Francesca’s, Zara, Express and more.
Many retailers, including Godiva, have focused on leveraging their digital footprint in order to successfully reach customers.
“Online has leapfrogged forward three years,” Cohen said. “Consumers have clearly educated themselves on how to purchase basically anything from anywhere, at any time, at any price.”
According to Adobe Analytics, online shopping hit nearly $200 billion during the holiday shopping season alone.
Chocolate sales have also been on the rise since the pandemic hit. In 2020, Americans spent nearly $15 billion on chocolate, a 5 percent increase since 2019, while Canadians spent a little over $2 billion, a 7 percent jump.