Will Godiva’s stores ever come back from the pandemic?
Godiva on Friday announced plans to exit all 128 North American locations as COVID-19 has forced the company to restrict in-person experiences.
The first U.S. Godiva shop opened in 1972 in New York City, but most are now inside malls.
The chocolatier in 2019 heralded plans to open 2,000 cafes around the world in six years. Its seven U.S. cafes also now face closure.
In a statement, Godiva said that over the past year demand for in-person shopping has “waned” due to the pandemic and changes in shopping behavior.
“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 Nurtac Afridi, CEO. “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.”
Godiva will continue its “aggressive focus” on the food, drug and mass channels as well as online sales. “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,” Mr. Afridi said. “Godiva is already available in many retailers in North America, and we will continue to increase our presence there.”
Godiva’s retail operations across Europe, the Middle East and greater China will remain open.
The pandemic has led to the suspension of Godiva’s in-store sampling events and only worsened traffic at malls.
The closures come despite chocolate benefiting from the comfort food trend. The National Confectioners Association (NCA) found premium chocolate sales at grocery grew 21.4 percent from March 15 to August 9, 2020. NCA wrote in a statement, “Consumers appreciate and value chocolate and candy during these uncertain times because of their uncanny ability to boost moods and lighten perspective.”
The strength of the trend emboldened Swiss chocolatier Läderach to open its largest store in December on Fifth Avenue despite light tourist traffic in Manhattan. CEO Johannes Läderach, told Bloomberg, “We don’t have any doubts that after the pandemic, sales will come back and grow again as they have been.”
- Store closings 2021: Godiva to close its boutiques by end of March but chocolate will be sold online, other stores – USA Today
- Godiva to exit 128 North American retail stores by end of March – Candy Industry
- Godiva exiting brick-and-mortar locations in North America – Food Business News
- Consumers Find Joy in Chocolate and Candy During COVID-19 – National Confectioners Association
- Hershey Reports Third-Quarter 2020 Financial Results; Provides 2020 Outlook – Hershey
- Premium chocolate emerges as winner in pandemic – Bloomberg
- Largest Swiss Chocolate Retailer – Läderach Opens World’s Largest Flagship Store in New York City to Deliver The Joy of Fresh Chocolate – Läderach
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Godiva is making a wise decision in closing its North American stores or is it penny wise and pound foolish? Will physical locations become less of an opportunity in coming years for chocolate, candy and other establishments that rely on in-store sampling?