Last year did not go well for stationary retail. But Apple is not undoing its ambitions.

Last year has been a tough year for brick and mortar retail stores as the world is still affected by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Apple stores are no different as they were closed for much of 2020 and continue to take COVID-19 precautions like face masks, temperature controls, and social distancing.

But Apple isn't slowing down its retail ambitions. Not even close. According to a report by the German Funke media group quoted by Bloomberg, Apple plans to further expand its global presence in stationary retail, "even if shops in city centers struggle with an accelerated switch to online sales during the coronavirus pandemic".

Apple stores will be 20 years old this year

Apple Stores recently celebrated twenty years since then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened their first stores in May 2001. Today Apple operates 511 Apple Store locations around the world. Most of them, a total of 270, are in the United States and the remaining 241 are overseas.

New store openings have been slowed by the pandemic, although Apple continues to announce and launch new venues. The latest Apple Store to open its doors is the spectacular Apple Via del Corso in Rome, Italy.

In an interview with Funke, Deirdre O'Brien, Apple's senior vice president of Retail and People, said that physical Apple stores are invaluable to Apple as they allow users and would-be users to get a hands-on look at products throw to ask, answer questions from Apple Store staff and attend workshops that show them how to get the most out of their devices.

"You can learn a lot about the products on our online site, you can touch them in a shop and get a feel for them," she said. "We intend to add more stores."

The importance of Apple stores

This is a tough time for brick and mortar retail as more people are turning to online shopping and off the main drag in response to worldwide lockdowns. But the Apple Store concept remains immensely helpful for Apple.

No company controls its narrative as closely as Apple. While it is certainly possible to purchase Macs, iPads, iPhones, and other Apple devices from third-party stores, the presence of physical Apple Stores allows Apple to control every aspect of the sale of its products there – from the given sales pitch from employees to the sales pitch to present its products on tables and shelves.

If you're a company with the kind of deep pockets Apple has, there's no reason to go without them.

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About the author

Lukas Dormehl
(180 articles published)

Luke has been an Apple fan since the mid-1990s. His main interests in technology are smart devices and the interface between tech and the liberal arts.

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By Lukas Dormehl

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