godiva chocolate closing

Luxury chocolate brand Godiva is closing all of its stores in Canada

Of all the things COVID-19 has taken away from shopping malls, the ability to get freshly-dipped chocolate strawberries in the middle of a long, annoying day might be one of the worst.

Godiva Chocolatier has announced that it will be closing all 128 of its brick-and-mortar locations across North America by the end of this March.

Of the Belgian chocolate brand's 11 Canadian storefronts, four are in Toronto. They can be found at the Eaton Centre, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Fairview Mall and Scarborough Town Centre (or rather, they could be, before malls closed under lockdown orders two months ago.)

Fortunately, the 95-year-old company will maintain wholesale operations, meaning that you can still buy Godiva chocolates at gourmet food markets, department stores and online.

Godiva will also maintain retail operations across Europe, the Middle East, and China, so... once travel is okayed again, you could theoretically also go abroad to get one of those indulgent ice cream cones.

In a release announcing the move this week, Godiva executives explained that "demand for the in-person shopping experience offered through its brick-and-mortar locations has waned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic."

"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 the company's CEO, Nurtac Afridi.

"Of course, this decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hardworking chocolatiers who will be impacted," she continued.

"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 behaviours."

Founded in Brussels in 1926 but now owned by a Turkish company and headquartered in New York City, Godiva has exploded in popularity since its inception and remains known for its Belgian craftsmanship and use of fine ingredients.

More recently, it's become a popular destination for Instagram users to take photos of fancy ice cream cones.

The company announced in 2019 that it would be more than doubling its North American store count by 2025 and opening up some 2,000 chocolate cafes around the world.

Since April of 2019, customers have been able to purchase everything from Belgian liege waffles and "croiffles" (croissant waffles) at Godiva cafes in New York and New Jersey.

Sadly, the concept will not be rolled out any further in North America due to what the company says is a pandemic-induced "acceleration of changes in consumers' shopping behaviour."

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