Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in a keynote speech at the Goldman Sachs investor conference that Apple is going to close 20 of its retail stores, in order to expand them and make them large enough to accommodate more customers. Some of Apple’s stores aren’t big enough, Cook said, noting that its retail stores now see 10 million people per week across its 400+ locations.
He said that needing to build bigger stores was a good problem for the company to have. Apple is also now adding 30 stores, “disproportionately outside the US,” with the next one arriving in Turkey. Apple opened four stores in China last quarter, and plans to add “lots more” to serve the demand there, according to Cook. With Turkey, Apple will have established a retail presence in 13 countries worldwide.
Last quarter, Apple reported doing $6.4 billion in retail store sales, up from $6.12 billion in Q4 2011. Last year, stores saw 370 million visitors, with 120 million in the past quarter.
Cook mentioned that when he’s feeling down, he takes a trip to an Apple store to cheer himself up. He actually equated the experience to “taking a Prozac.”
Cook said he believes Apple retail stores have played a large role in the iPad’s success, 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.” Before the iPad, people’s perception of tablet computers was one of “heavy things that no one wanted.”
He went on to discuss the competitive advantage provided by Apple stores. “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.”