Apple Closing 20 Retail Stores In Order To Expand Them, Accomodate More Customers

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a keynote speech at the Goldman Sachs investor conference that Apple was going to close 20 of its retail stores, in order to move them and make them large enough to serve the ongoing influx of Apple customers. Some of Apple’s stores aren’t big enough, Cook said, noting that its retail outlets now see 10 million people per week across its 400-plus locations.

He said that, like the issue around Apple’s cash hoard, needing to build bigger stores was a good problem for the company to have. Apple is now also adding 30 stores, “disproportionately outside the U.S.,” with the next one arriving in Turkey. Apple added four stores in China last quarter, and plans to add “lots more” to serve the customers there, Cook added. The addition of Turkey will see Apple establishing a retail presence in 13 countries worldwide.

On last quarter’s earnings call, Apple announced that it did $6.4 billion in retail store sales, up from $6.12 billion in the last holiday quarter. Today, Cook continued to be incredibly bullish on retail, noting that the average Apple store does $50 million in revenue. Last year, stores saw 370 million visitors, with 120 million in the past quarter. Showing a bit of personality, Cook even equated the experience of entering an Apple store to “taking a Prozac.”

Cook said he believes Apple retail stores have been a contributing factor in the iPad’s adoption rates, saying “I don’t think we would have been nearly as successful with the iPad, as an example, if it weren’t for our stores.” This, he explained, was because people’s image of tablet computers before the iPad was one of “heavy things no one wanted.”

Cook added that Apple stores were an incredible competitive advantage for the company, and that it’s becoming clear that its retail model isn’t easy for everyone to replicate. “I’m not even sure ‘store’ is the right word anymore – they’re much broader than that,” he said. “They are the face of Apple for almost all customers.”