The economic disaster brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another victim - Belgian chocolate maker Godiva.
The Turkish-owned chocolatier has announced that it will shutter all of its 128 brick-and-mortar locations, including cafes and retail boutiques, across North America by the spring.
Two years ago, the company set out on an ambitious plan to open some 2,000 cafes worldwide by 2025.
But on Wednesday it was announced that the company would seek to either sell its locations or simply close them down.
In April 2019, Godiva opened its first cafe concept in New York City. In the 12 months that followed, the company opened dozens of other locations.
Godiva cafes offer an assortment of baked goods, including Belgian liege waffles and chocolate-inspired cookies, according to Food Business News.
The company said that the coronavirus pandemic has kept people away from in-person shopping at its locations.
Godiva, the Turkish-owned maker of Belgian chocolate, will shutter all 128 of its brick-and-mortar retail stores in North America, the company announced. A Godiva store is seen above on Seventh Avenue in New York City
‘Our brick-and-mortar locations in North America have had a clear purpose since we first opened our doors in this market - to provide an in-person experience for consumers to enjoy the world’s most exquisite chocolates,’ said Godiva Chocolatier CEO Nurtac Afridi.
‘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.
‘Of course, this decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hardworking chocolatiers who will be impacted.
‘We are grateful for all they have done to make wonderful moments for our consumers and spread happiness through incredible customer service and living our values and behaviors.’
While Godiva is closing its stores, it will still maintain a presence in North America.
Afridi said that the company will offer its products for sale through food, drug, and mass retail outlets as well as online shops.
‘We are making it even easier for our consumers to enjoy Godiva, whether that’s by treating themselves or gifting, so that everyone can have access to our premium chocolate,’ Afridi said.
‘Godiva is already available in many retailers in North America, and we will continue to increase our presence there while always upholding the premium quality, taste and innovation that we have been renowned for since we were founded in Brussels in 1926.’
Godiva chocolates are seen above at a boutique location in Los Angeles in this undated file photo
Godiva owns and operates more than 600 shops in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
The company plans to maintain its locations outside of North America.
Last week, the government said Americans cut back on spending in December for the third-straight month as a surge in virus cases kept people away from stores during the critical holiday shopping season.
The Commerce Department said last Friday that retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7 per cent in December from the month before, a decline Wall Street analysts weren’t expecting.
Sales also fell in October and November, even as retailers tried to get people shopping for Christmas gifts early by offering deals before Halloween.
Friday’s report covers only about a third of overall consumer spending.
Services such as haircuts and hotel stays, which have been badly hurt by the pandemic, are not included.
The unexpected decline underscores the economy’s troubles as the pandemic has worsened this winter.
Employers shed jobs last month for the first time since April.
And layoffs appear to be continuing, as the number of people seeking jobless benefits jumped last week to the highest level since August.
That’s left many Americans with less to spend.
But the recent $600 stimulus checks sent to most Americans is expected to boost the economy in the coming months.
And as vaccines are more widely distributed, economists expect the economy to rebound at a healthy pace in the second half of this year.
While Godiva is closing its stores, it will still maintain a presence in North America by offering its products for sale through food, drug, and mass retail outlets as well as online shops
So far, retailers have reported mixed results for the holiday season.
Big box retailer Target, which sells groceries, fashions and cleaning supplies under one roof, said sales rose during the holidays as virus-wary people seek one-stop shopping.
Meanwhile, chains typically found at malls, such as Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret, and Urban Outfitters, reported a sales drop.
The Commerce Department said sales even fell online, down nearly 6 per cent after rising 19 per cent for the year.
That may be due to Amazon, which held its annual Prime Day sales event in October this year for the first time, which likely pushed people to shop earlier in the season and spend less in December, analysts at Wells Fargo Securities said.
Walmart, Target and Best Buy followed Amazon’s lead, offering competing discounts to coincide with Prime Day.
At restaurants and bars, sales fell 4.5 per cent in December as states restricted in-person dining, ending the year down 21 per cent.