Why Did Godiva Chocolates Close All Of Its US Stores?

The name Godiva is synonymous with luxurious chocolate all over the world. If you were lucky enough to stumble upon (or seek out) one of the brand's stores in the U.S. you could not just try decadent chocolate truffles, but you could also browse its selection of chocolate-dipped fruit, ice cream, and rich beverages. And yet, you may have noticed that this delicious experience hasn't been around in the U.S. for the past few years. In 2021, Godiva closed all of its cafes and stores in North America.

What prompted the brand to shut down in-person visits in the U.S. all in one sweep? It turns out smaller restaurants weren't the only ones to struggle during the pandemic. In March 2021, Godiva closed 128 stores due to a declining number of in-person shoppers and a shift in consumer buying habits caused in part by the rise of Covid-19 in 2020. "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," said CEO Nurtac Afridi in a statement at the time (via NBC News).

Godiva planned a massive cafe launch shortly before the pandemic

Despite being a Belgian brand, Godiva has had a solid presence in the U.S. for a long time. The company first traveled to the U.S. in 1966, when it sold chocolates at Wanamaker's, a fancy Philadelphia department store at the time. Then in 1972, it opened its first international boutiques with locations in Tokyo, Paris, and on Fifth Avenue in New York City. As recently as 2019, Godiva announced a plan to launch a whopping 2,000 cafes (starting in Manhattan) with delicious offerings like chocolate-filled croiffles (croissants made with a waffle iron) and even prepared meals. And yet, just two years later, the North American stores closed as customers increasingly transitioned to online shopping.

Despite the change, Godiva's presence in the U.S. didn't evaporate entirely. You can still find its products at a variety of retailers here, including Target, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. In 2022, the brand debuted a line of truffle-inspired ice cream flavors, which you can get at grocery stores like Vons and Albertsons. The same year, Godiva enlisted Chris Evans (aka the actor who played Captain America) in a global marketing campaign. And of course, U.S. residents can always buy truffles, bars, hot cocoa, and gift boxes on Godiva's website. But when it comes to its in-person locations, the company is leaning away from North America and into China and Japan, where it has seen more success.