In the past 24 hours, a number of reports have alleged that T-Mobile will be massively adjusting its physical retail presence, possibly closing a large number of stores and ending agreements with 3rd party dealers and franchises. Details are sparse, and T-Mobile hasn't answered any of our questions on the subject when asked, but reported estimates range as high as 1,500-2,000 affected stores — though the number remains unconfirmed. Most of those are alleged to be Metro by T-Mobile locations (the company's budget pre-paid carrier), though we have seen reports that some franchised and partner T-Mobile locations will also be affected.
The news first broke with a tweet yesterday from Boost Mobile America founder Peter Adderton:
WOW !Hearing @TMobile are cut 1500 to 2000 exclusive @MetroByTMobile stores today. With non exclusive being dropped that's 30% of there distribution the arm's race with the still owned by T mo Boost business is Now gone they don't need to be so aggressive,feel for those dealers. pic.twitter.com/oO8bv0Hw2l
— Peter Adderton (@peter_adderton) April 29, 2020
Based on our own sources, corporate T-Mobile locations are unaffected, or much less affected. The closures primarily affect Metro by T-Mobile locations, with the company focusing on its third-party retail presence (i.e., franchise locations and partner dealers). That explicitly includes 95 stores run by Wireless Vision. The NWIDA (National Wireless Independent Dealer Association) has confirmed that anywhere from 5-15% of stores owned by large dealers will be affected.
A source tells us that T-Mobile may have warned partners and franchisees of these closures as far back as two years ago, and that even with that advanced warning, many of those locations' employees were not informed until recently.
It's worth remembering that T-Mobile promised that its merger with Sprint would "create jobs from day one," when it made its arguments for regulatory approval of the merger, with the company explicitly stating that it would create more employment opportunities, not eliminate them. More recently, the company had already been accused of conducting layoffs around the time of the merger. TmoNews estimates as many as 6,000 employees could be affected by the store closures. Adderton was cited by Fierce Wireless as saying that some stores will close as early as today.
When asked for more details regarding the store closures, a T-Mobile representative did not answer questions surrounding the number or type of stores being closed or how this might affect the company's prior promises to generate more jobs following its merger with Sprint. However, we were provided with the following statement:
"We are always optimizing our retail footprint as a normal course of business to ensure we are in the best position to support the thousands of communities we serve across the U.S. We recently notified some dealer stores that we will transition them to T-Mobile stores and we will also close a small number of redundant locations.”
T-Mobile is also still in control of Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, pending eventual transfer/sale to Dish Network as part of the terms for the merger, and so far, it doesn't look like these store closures will affect those branded retail locations.