Apple-Loyal Regions Don’t Receive Stores First

April 20, 2010

red the most - green the fewestYou’d think that Apple would have located its first retail stores where existing customers already live. Not true. A recently-released analysis of Apple product users shows that among the ten most-loyal Apple regions in the U.S., three waited at least five years before being rewarded with a store. The study by Experian Simmons shows that the metro area of Monterey-Salinas (N. Calif., #8) was store-less for five years, and Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo (Calif., #9) residents waited six years for an Apple store. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia, ranked #5 for Apple users, still doesn’t have a retail store. The Experian research was based on their vast marketing database, and the study ranked U.S. metropolitan areas by number of adult residents who own or use at least one of three Apple products—an iPod, iPhone or Macintosh computer. Not surprisingly, the San Francisco-San Jose (Calif.) region has the most Apple users, 32.3 percent among the region’s 5.2 million adult population. The region includes Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. Other regions in the top 10 include Boston, San Diego, New York City, Chicago, Denver and Las Vegas (27.9 percent of Apple users).

Download the entire Experian report (registration required).

It’s long been known that one element in Apple’s selection of retail store sites is the number of registered product users within a region. Other factors the company uses include population, the presence of universities and colleges, average household income, nearby Interstate highways, and the overall use of the Internet. Obviously, the presence of superior-level retail malls and developments is another factor in Apple’s location search.

The DC region is nearly as loyal as #1 San Francisco: 30.1 percent of 4.7 million adult residents. But for the past nine years, Apple users have had to visit one of the seven stores in surrounding Virginia and Maryland to buy products or obtain Genius Bar service.

DC loyalists won’t have long to wait for an Apple store now. The company has confirmed that a store is under construction on Wisconsin Avenue NW, and will hold its grand opening this summer, nine years after Apple first store opened in May 2001. The store was originally delayed by a search for the perfect location, insiders say, and then by the economic downturn that started in 2008.

Beyond the top 10 loyal regions, there are several other high-ranked regions without an Apple store, including Baltimore (Md., #13), Charlottesville (Virg., #16), Boise (Idaho, #25), Lafayette (Ind., #36) and El Paso (Tex., #46). Baltimore is served by two stores in the far suburbs, while Lafayette and Boise are home to universities. Tipsters say a store will open in Boise this fall. But the other cities listed above have never been spotted on any listing of possbile store locations.

How far down the loyal list of 206 metro areas did Apple dip to locate an Apple store? Tulsa (Okla.) has the lowest percentage of Apple users in the study, just 15.7 percent, and it’s ranked #145. Apple opened a store at the Woodland Hills mall in June 2007.

The smallest region on the list was Glendive (Mont.), with just 9,780 residents, of which 13.5 percent are Apple users, giving it a rank of #178 on the list. The closest Apple store is 493 miles away, at Twenty Ninth Street (Boulder, Colo.).

The largest city on the list with the smallest percentage of Apple users is Charleston-Huntington (WV). The region has 912,277 adult residents, with an 11 percent share of Apple users, or nearly one-third that of top-ranker San Francisco. The nearest store is 222 miles away at West Town Mall (Knoxville, Ken.).

Overall, Experian says, 21.6 percent of adults own or use an iPod, iPhone or Macintosh.

Others regions near the top of the list without a store:

  • #51 – Bend (Ore.)
  • #54 – Bakersfield (Calif.)
  • #55 – Gainesville (Fla.)
  • #58 – Peoria-Bloomington (Ill.)
  • #63 – Lansing (Mich.)
  • #64 – Loredo (Tex.)
  • #66 – Rockford (Ill.)
  • #67 – Burlington (Vt.)
  • #68 – Yakima (Wash.)
  • #70 – Harlingen-Brownsville (Tex.)
  • #71 – Columbia (SC)
  • #74 – Eugene (Ore.)
  • #75 – Waco (Tex.)
  • #78 – Fort Wayne (Ind.)
  • #80 – Green Bay (Wisc.)
  • #81 – Mobile (Ala.) – Pensacola (Fla.)
  • #82 – Yuma (Ariz.)

Regions further down the list that have an Apple store include:

  • #87 – Syracuse (NY)
  • #94 – Greensboro (NC)
  • #99 – OKC
  • #101 – Memphis
  • #102 – Rochester
  • #105 – Spokane
  • #1110 – Redding
  • #121 – Huntsville
  • #121 Birmingham
  • #123 Knoxville

This map shows the Index ranking assigned to metro regions, indicating the percentage of adult Apple users in the area. The red area covers the top 16 regions, in the range of 27.1% to 32.3%. The orange region covers 24.0% to 26.9%, rankings 17 to 32. At the other end, the dark green areas represent the lowest ranked areas of the country, from 8.8% Apple users to 12.4%.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

MattF April 21, 2010 at 0754

The DC metro area has seven Apple Stores, including -two- in Bethesda MD, so it’s not as though Apple has been ignoring the area. The lack of a store in DC has to do mostly with the long and sad story of retail in the District, and that’s not Apple’s fault.

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Marktrek April 21, 2010 at 0947

You jumped the gun a little bit. Spokane and Knoxville have stores planned, not open.
Do you think Anchorage will have a store?
How about the 175,000 people on the Big Island of Hawaii or the almost 150,000 on Maui that have to first go to the airport to visit an Apple store.

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Brian Parnell January 7, 2012 at 2051

Well, we now have an Apple Specialty Dealer in Kona. I’m the manager. Frankly, I don’t think Apple will come to either Big Island or Maui any time soon. Wrong demographics and the population is kinda spread out. Rumor has it that Steve Jobs (who had a place here at a Kona Resort) personally sent the survey team to Maui…twice. No go. Also, we already have a high percentage of Apple users out here.
So for now, we’re probably not on their radar. Thankfully.

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Tim April 21, 2010 at 1559

“You’d think that Apple would have located its first retail stores where existing customers already live.”

Why on earth would you think that? These people _already_ know about Apple and the Mac, and already buy Apple products. There’s no additional profit to be made there.

As Steve Jobs famously stated when announcing the Apple retail initiative in 2001 (the stores used to have signs in the windows to this effect), the retail stores were created to go after “the other 95%” of the population who were not yet Apple customers. In my opinion, that’s been a pretty successful strategy so far.

– Tim

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dcapshaw April 21, 2010 at 1639
Marktrek April 21, 2010 at 2209

Sorry, Lexington, KY is planned.

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Mike Kaufmann April 27, 2010 at 1111

Back to Hawaii, my wife and I took the Super Ferry to go to the Apple Store opening in Waikiki! That was cool, but endangering whales wasn’t. Maui has a half decent Apple Store, but they put a 5 to 10% premium on their prices. That’s called the “Heaven Tax” by the Haoles!

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Marc S. April 29, 2010 at 2335

The way I understand it, many of the early Apple Stores were located in test markets. The Apple Store, Saddle Creek (Memphis, TN) opened up long before a store here in Houston, TX opened up, and we have a far higher Apple product population. Saddle Creek was the first Apple Store I went into. Love the older design of the store, though they just recently had a remodel. I’m kinda surprised Jacksonville, FL doesn’t have another store. The population is certainly there for it.

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silverpie May 3, 2010 at 1109

The District of Columbia reference is a bit misleading, considering that they have one store adjacent to a Metro station (Pentagon City) and another three blocks from one (Clarendon).

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Jeff October 31, 2010 at 0836

“Beyond the top 10 loyal regions, there are several other high-ranked regions without an Apple store, including Baltimore (Md., #13), Charlottesville (Virg., #16), Boise (Idaho, #25), Lafayette (Ind., #36) and El Paso (Tex., #46).”

Hi Gary…
The store in Boise is open now.
Maybe Apple read your article. They next day you posted the article on El Paso.
Jeff

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Gary November 1, 2010 at 1306

I’ll take another look at the Experian list to see how Apple may have caught up with the hot regions.

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Ronin January 7, 2012 at 1504

Regarding Charlottesville, VA:

It is a university town and has a big Univ. of Virginia Apple store-wtithin-a-store in its bookstore.

It has a Best Buy Apple store-wtithin-a-store.

It has an Apple retail store in Short Pump, VA only 50 minutes away.

It also has a Target, Walmart, AT&T Store, Verizon Store, multiple Radio Shacks, etc. for additional sales.

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Ronin January 7, 2012 at 1505

Regarding Charlottesville, VA:

It is a university town and has a big Univ. of Virginia Apple store-wtithin-a-store in its bookstore.

It has a Best Buy Apple store-wtithin-a-store.

It has an Apple retail store in Short Pump, VA only 50 minutes away.

It also has an independent Apple authorized service center.

It also has a Target, Walmart, AT&T Store, Verizon Store, multiple Radio Shacks, etc. for additional sales.

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Geordie June 23, 2012 at 2137

Great study. I agree it is stupid apple doesn’t have a store in Bakersfield. The city has over 400,000 people with another 300,000 nearby. The nearest apple store is 1.5 hrs away. And a best buy apple store within a store does not help.

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