The wild popularity of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) brick-and-mortar stores appears to be leveling out, but the unlikely retail outlets are still achieving the goal set for them back in 2001.
Apple announced that same-store revenue dropped 4.9 percent year-over-year last quarter, continuing a decline that started in March 2013. Overall sales have suffered as newer iPhone and iPad models have failed to draw the same enthusiasm as their predecessors.
Sales of Mac computers, on the other hand, are on the rise, which is exactly what Steve Jobs hoped to accomplish when the retail outlets launched 13 years ago. Same-store sales for Macs were up 11 percent in its third quarter, which ended in June, compared with the 8.8 percent slide for non-Mac revenue.
Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf expects that growth to continue, especially since the company is dropping prices on popular computers and experiencing more sales in new markets. But the retail outlets are a big part of that growth too. Apple Stores still bear the golden standard when it comes to hands-on tech experiences for shoppers: Apple brick-and-mortars account for 20 percent of global Mac sales and have assisted Apple in outpacing PCs in 33 of the last 34 quarters.
And just as importantly, those stores have served as beacons for competitors' customers on the fringes, winning over many disaffected Windows users.
"Through their array of post-sale services, the stores have become a magnet in attracting Windows users to the Mac platform," Wolf wrote in a note to investors. "In the June quarter, we estimate that Windows switchers purchased over half of the 1 million Macs sold in stores. This represented half of the estimated number of Windows users who switched to a Mac in the quarter."
Mobile device sales may require a little more work if the retailer wants to keep up with competitors such as Samsung. New senior VP of retail and online stores Angela Ahrendts already revamped Burberry's experience and will be attempting a similar feat during her tenure at Apple.
-See this Apple Insider story
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