Apple's Same-Store Sales Are Flat and That's Great

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 9 2014 3:32 PM

Apple Shouldn't Sweat Same-Store Sales

452971703
Apple store

Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

I enjoyed Jeff Chu's profile of Angela Ahrendts, Apple's new retail chief, but this skepticism about the health of the retail business as it exists seems unwarranted:

Yet Apple’s retail business has also fallen into relative stasis. Its per-square-foot sales are still the envy of retail—just over $6,000, about twice what runner-up Tiffany records—and net sales rose 7% in fiscal 2013, but per-store numbers were flat, since Apple opened 26 new stores during the year.
Advertisement

Per store sales trends are a key metric for almost any retailer. But if you're already the leader in sales per square foot it's really not so relevant. If you're actually double the per square foot number of the nearest competitor, then you're a ridiculous outlier and you should completely forget about it.

The world, it seems, could absorb more Apple stores. Potentially a lot more Apple stores. But if you open a store in downtown D.C., it'll to some extent cannibalize sales from existing locations in Pentagon City and Georgetown. If you open a store in Brooklyn, it'll to some extent cannibalize sales from existing locations in Manhattan. To the extent that you focus on same-store sales, this is the kind of thing that will impel you to slow your expansion. And that's something a lot of companies need to think about. But Apple's stores are so successful that it would be insane to get too hung up on these kind of cannibalization worries. The only question should be how quickly can they roll out new ones without excessively diluting the actual quality of the experience.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 2:57 PM ISIS Helps Snuff Out Conservative Opposition to Government Funding Bill
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.