Asymco’s Horace Dediu has today published the latest performance figures for Apple Retail Stores, suggesting that overall profitability has been more steady over a long period, though relatively volatile in a short-term window. The study reflects that revenues, employment and visitors per store have been either flat or slightly down when seen on a ‘seasonally adjusted basis’.
The author notes that since Apple Stores mainly sell Apple products, if Apple products slow down, the retail sales should also slow. Back in in 2007, Steve Jobs said that the Apple stores had been built to sell the iPhone and in 2010, Ron Johnson said the Apple stores had been built to sell the iPad. While both statements were meant metaphorically, they seem to be actually quite accurate when looking at what Apple has actually sold.
The pattern that seems to appear is one of a plateau or peaking of sales, especially when values are seen on a per-store basis. Seen in isolation, Apple Stores would appear to be coming to a point of quiescence. But they should not be seen in isolation. Apple Stores mainly sell Apple products, so if Apple products slow then retail sales should also slow.
So at the end of the day, the performance of the Apple stores depends on the performance of Apple’s portfolio of products. It stands to reason that as iOS units slow, Apple stores should as well.
So, if Apple is confident in the future of iOS, it should be investing more in retail in addition to other capital projects such as manufacturing.