Shaw temporarily closing all stores nationwide, Telus shutting down mall kiosks in response to COVID-19 pandemic

    A Freedom Mobile location in Toronto. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

    Shaw is temporarily closing all its stores across Canada and Telus is putting its mall kiosks on hiatus as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the country. Both firms will pay employees who are losing hours because of the moves.

    Shaw’s temporary closures, which are currently scheduled to last until March 27, affect all of its 159 stores nationwide, including those of its subsidiary, Freedom Mobile.

    Talking Point

    Telus and Shaw, two of Canada’s largest telecoms, are temporarily closing locations across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shaw is shutting down all storefronts, whereas Telus is closing its mall kiosks, as both firms try to reduce the number of people exposed to the disease. It’s not just telecoms shutting down. Apple is closing 450 stores across 21 countries; Knix Wear, Lululemon, Lush Cosmetics and Aritizia have all closed their doors, as well.

    “The health and well-being of our employees and customers is our top priority,” said Shaw CEO Brad Shaw in a statement. “This step will help our communities and health care professionals across the country better tackle this growing pandemic by helping to flatten the curve and reduce the number of individuals who can be exposed to COVID-19.”

    Telus’s move, which goes into effect at the close of business Monday, affects kiosks operating under its own name, as well as those of its brands Koodo and Public Mobile.

    “For retail team members affected by store closures we are introducing top up payments to ensure that they continue to be paid their average monthly wages and performance pay during this challenging time,” Telus spokesperson Brandi Rees told The Logic. She set no timeline for how long the closures would last: “It’s a fluid situation that we are continuing to monitor.”

    Telus is keeping storefronts open, but is taking additional measures to protect employee safety, including “enabling a touchless experience” in its stores. 

    Not all telecoms are closing their stores. Cogeco asked employees to work from home where possible last week, but is keeping its stores open. 

    “For our stores we have implemented health and safety measures, we are monitoring the situation closely and we are following governments’ recommendations,” said Cogeco spokesperson Anastasia Unterner. 

    SaskTel is also keeping stores open. The telecom announced today it’s waiving data overages and making a number of television channels free for customers.

    “We are closely monitoring the situation but at this time, our stores remain open and our employees are at work,” said SaskTel spokesperson Michelle Englot.

    Rogers announced Monday it and its brands Fido and chatr would make at least 14 television channels free for customers until April 30. Until that same day, they will also waive all long-distance voice-calling fees, as well as roaming fees for people outside the country and will ensure no customer’s service is stopped over the next 90 days due to financial difficulties. The firm, which said Friday it would waive home internet data caps in response to the teleworking surge, is also now offering Microsoft Teams and Office 365 free for six months to support small businesses whose employees are working from home. 

    “The connectivity we provide Canadians is critical now more than ever, and these steps will help to make life a little easier for our customers,” said Rogers CEO Joe Natale. The firm did not immediately reply to a request for comment about whether it was planning to close stores. 

    Bell and Videotron, which recently said they would suspend data caps on home internet for customers in response to COVID-19, did not immediately reply to requests for comment on their store closure plans.