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Samsung joins Apple, Microsoft in closing US stores to combat coronavirus

The South Korean giant only operates a handful of physical stores in the US.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
Samsung Store Palo Alto

Samsung's stores, like this one in Palo Alto, California, are now closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

James Martin/CNET
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Samsung has become the latest tech giant to close its stores to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

The company on Tuesday said that its stores in the US will be closed for an indeterminate time. While Samsung is the world's biggest phone and TV maker, it doesn't have a huge retail presence in the US. It only has four stores that sell its products in places like Los Angeles and Palo Alto, California

Samsung noted that its online store -- where more of its business originates -- will remain open, as will its Samsung Care support site, social media support platforms and phone support at 1-800-Samsung. It plans to fulfill orders from Samsung.com as quickly as possible. 

Watch this: Pandemic: Here's what's changed about the coronavirus

"As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, the health and well-being of our employees and customers are our top priority," Samsung Electronics America CEO YH Eom said in a message posted on Samsung's site

The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The virus was reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31 and has been under investigation since. Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS, and the WHO has labeled COVID-19 a pandemic.

The crisis has caused schools to close, while other closures have swept across the country, from Broadway theaters to NBA venues. Starting Tuesday, the San Francisco Bay Area was put on lockdown, with citizens ordered to stay at home except for essential outings. A shortage of tests has made it unclear how many people in the US are infected with the coronavirus, but at least 100 have died from the disease. 

Samsung is the latest tech giant to temporarily shutter its stores. Apple on Friday said it would close all of its stores outside China until March 27. Then Tuesday, it said the retail locations would remain shuttered "until further notice." Microsoft on Tuesday also said that it's closing its stores around the globe

Samsung may sell more phones than anyone else on the plant, but it has only just started to operate its own US stores to sell its latest gadgets. In the past, it solely relied on partners like carriers and big box retailers to push its devices to consumers. In 2013, it started partnering with Best Buy on mini shops within the retailer's stores to show off Samsung's electronics. Then, in 2016, it opened the Samsung 837 showroom at 837 Washington in New York's Meatpacking District. The location houses demos of Samsung's various products but doesn't have devices for sale.

A year ago, it opened its first Experience Stores that actually have devices you can buy. It started with locations at The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles; Roosevelt Field on Long Island in Garden City, New York; and The Galleria in Houston. In December, it added a store in Palo Alto, essentially Apple's backyard. Samsung also operates a service center in Paramus, New Jersey, but it doesn't sell products there.