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Apple curbing retail expansion as segment profits pour in

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Apple has undoubtedly taken its foot off the accelerator when it comes to expanding its chain of 252 retail stores, but the move doesn't signal any weakness in customer interest or a pull-back from expanding the brand to new international locations.

Apple has cut back part-time hours, frozen retail store hiring, started using Specialists to fill empty Genius positions. It's also cut fiscal 2009 store openings to less than half last year's total of 54. But Apple has never closed an existing store since the first location opened eight years ago, a sign that it's still firmly committed to the retail initiative.

Instead, operational changes have been made to match a decline in store visitors, fewer product purchases, and out of prudence based on deteriorating world-wide economic forecasts.

The stores hosted 39.1 million visitors for the second fiscal quarter of 2009, down 16.2 percent from the previous holiday quarter, but up 16.0 percent from the same quarter of 2008. The stores sold 438,000 Macintosh computers during the quarter, down 14.9 percent from the previous quarter, and down 4.3 percent from Q2 2008.

More significantly, the retail stores are a sales channel that Apple cannot abandon, since the chain provides direct sales and product support for a loyal customer base. Apple retail contributed a healthy 18.0 percent of the company's total revenue in the second quarter of 2009 and an astounding 25.4 percent of the company's profit during the same period.

The stores also provide a significant "lighthouse" of brand awareness for Apple around the world, and remain critical centers for customer support and training. The stores hosted 644,000 personal training sessions during the latest quarter, Apple execs say, an average of 28 sessions a day for each store in the chain.

The decline in grand openings will not affect other countries, where Apple is less saturated with stores. Company executives say Apple will open "about 25" stores during fiscal 2009, with about half of those stores outside the United States. For comparison, Apple opened a record 50 stores during fiscal 2008, 32 in 2007 and 41 in 2006.

Tipsters, job openings and other sources have confirmed Apple's focus on international stores during the coming year. Stores are planned for Canada, France, England, Switzerland, China, Australia, Germany and Scotland. In fact, more than one store is on the drawing boards for the UK, Australia and Canada.

Overall, tips have pinpointed at least 16 international stores that could open within the next nine months. In contrast, only 10 new stores in the U.S. have been identified for the current fiscal year.

The store expansion slow-down helps explain the decrease in retail capital expenditures during the second quarter of fiscal 2009. Apple spent just $30 million on its retail stores, the smallest figure since the second quarter of 2005 when there were just 105 stores open.

Lease commitments increased by $200 million during the second quarter, almost identical to previous quarters, and indicating the long-term nature of the company's contracts with mall developers and property owners.

Only within the past six months has the company cut back on staffing, reducing the number of full-time equivalent positions by by 1,900 since Oct. 2008, to 14,000. The staffing cut-backs have reportedly affected mostly part-time employees, who have received fewer hours to work, or who have been furloughed.

Some part-time employees receive just four hours a week to work, and promotions have been virtually eliminated, tipsters say. In some cases Specialists are being assigned to empty Genius or Creative positions, although it's not clear if they're being paid a higher wage to work out of classification.

Apple's latest high profile retail store opened this past December in Munich, Germany./span>

The 1,900 lost positions are certainly significant to those who are working fewer or no hours. But for an Apple store visitor, the loss represents an average of fewer than eight employees at each store. On a daily basis, the cut-back would reduce typical daily staffing by about four employees.

Beyond sales, support and training, Apple's stores also continue to evangelize, an important part of increasing the company's market share and awareness. According to chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer, about one-half of all Mac sales at Apple's retail stores continue to come from customers new to the Mac platform, a figure that hasn't declined since it was first reported in May 2006.

Gary Allen is the creator and author of ifo Apple Store, which provides close watch of Apple's retail initiative. When Gary isn't busy publishing news and information on Apple's latest retail stores, he finds himself hanging out at one.
post #2 of 19
Much as I appreciate these news and the work of Gary Allen I am worried about the poor soul. In your spare time, Gary, try going for a stroll in the park. Or something. Geez!
post #3 of 19
Where I live in Georgia the nearest Apple store is in Atlanta which is a two hour drive. The local best buy which opened last year is nice but does not have the mini apple store and may never have it as it is a relatively small store. The rub is that this area is growing and has a fairly affluent population from all over the country and their is no way to get local sales and service of macs. The nearest independent dealer is still 45 minutes away and is not really mac focused. Very frustrating.
Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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post #4 of 19
Ireland?
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

..... lost positions are certainly significant to those who are working fewer or no hours.

Ah, I love the euphemism: people don't get fired/unemployed any more, they just work 'no hours.'
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Ah, I love the euphemism: people don't get fired/unemployed any more, they just work 'no hours.'

Employment 2009: "Your temporary contract will be renewed, as it has been every six months for the last 10 years, but unfortunately at this time your hours have been reduced to zero"
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Ah, I love the euphemism: people don't get fired/unemployed any more, they just work 'no hours.'

Yeah. But it is true. When I was a business owner, it was infinitely easier to reduce someone's hours to near zero than it was to fire them.
To fire you had to show cause and possibly go to a labor board hearing. To lay-off you had to pay an increase in unemployment benefits. To zero out was free...
Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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post #8 of 19
But, but, but . . . a job is my RIGHT! I am entitled to it! My boss and my company OWE it to me! They're greedy and stupid if they say otherwise! I am paid too little! They are paid too much! They're screwing the little guy! Nationalize them all! Screw the capitalist swine! (Oh, oh . . . but watch out for the flu!)
post #9 of 19
I know the Apple Stores are doing well! I was in on of the East Bay stores here in California yesterday, at around 1:00 and there must have been around a hundred people in there! My buddy walked out with the iMac 24" 2.66 GHz machine, a printer, and an external drive.....and tonight we are dropping his Dell of his roof top!
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

.....and tonight we are dropping his Dell of his roof top!

Recycle.
post #11 of 19
I bet that you can't just pass without take a look in!

Now what about Greece?
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

I know the Apple Stores are doing well! I was in on of the East Bay stores here in California yesterday, at around 1:00 and there must have been around a hundred people in there! My buddy walked out with the iMac 24" 2.66 GHz machine, a printer, and an external drive.....and tonight we are dropping his Dell of his roof top!

On my last visit to my local Apple Store, the sales floor seemed a little slow but the genius bar and training areas were packed.
post #13 of 19
There is no doubt the economic slowdown had an effect on Apple stores, but I think there is a detail that distorts the actual picture a bit:

As far as I remember, a significant part of those record 50 stores last fiscal year were opened in September 2008 (sorry guys, too lazy to search for the number now). If they were delayed some 20 days, there would be no drop from 50 to 25 stores per fiscal year.

Someone not-that-lazy, please confirm
post #14 of 19
I have never seen the King of Prussia (outside Philadelphia) store even close to empty. That store is always packed even when every single other store in the mall is empty.

They also always have at least a dozen employees working at any one time.
post #15 of 19
What is sad is that this story will get passed around and eventually turned into "Apple Stores are failing".
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

Yeah. But it is true. When I was a business owner, it was infinitely easier to reduce someone's hours to near zero than it was to fire them.
To fire you had to show cause and possibly go to a labor board hearing. To lay-off you had to pay an increase in unemployment benefits. To zero out was free...

Interesting way to get around insane labor regulations and potential lawsuits... I'll keep this one in mind.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

What is sad is that this story will get passed around and eventually turned into "Apple Stores are failing".

Expect a 5 point drop in AAPL at any second now... wait for it...

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #18 of 19
'''up 16.0 percent from the same quarter of 2008"

while stores are up about 22%, for a net drop per store of about 6%.

I would just point out this is confirmed in Apple's 10Qs, as last year there were "approximately 12,000 FTEs", while this year, there were "approximately 14,000 FTE"s, or about 16.7% more FTEs.

I would note that the 10Qs say, "approximately". Meaning that 12,000FTEs could be as low as 11,500 or as high as 12,500; and 14,000 FTEs could be as low as 13,500 and as high as 14,500. In other words, the FTEs are within the margin of error. They could easily have dropped hours without letting anyone go, and people with few enough hours, often leave of their own accord.
post #19 of 19
Does anyone know what the 10 confirmed (domestic US) locations are?

Apple was announced for Little Rock a couple of years ago (it was to be the first in Louisiana, MIssissippi and Arkansas). Ads were listed for employment on Apple's website, plumbing permits were applied for (indicating construction), etc., yet nothing.

The delay in opening was presumably due to awaiting completion of the planned development - which is now open. Then the ads for employment disappeared from Apple's website. Rumors now are that they are revisiting their decision (market or development?).

Anyone have any insider information about Little Rock or the planned U.S. locations in general?
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