The start of the new year has brought a resumption of Apple’s on-going store expansion project, kicked off for 2012 at the Florida Mall south of Orlando where the store will more than triple in size. The Apple store opened in September 2005 with about 2,700 square-feet, now a considered a small space for the large number of daily visitors. According to insiders, the Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn stores will soon vacate, although it’s unknown if they’re relocating to other spaces in the mall or closing completely. Shortly after, construction will begin to expand the 30-foot wide Apple store into a portion of the adjacent vacant space. Mall lease plans suggest the finished store will have a 90 foot-wide storefront with 8,640 square-feet. Apple has said that over 100 stores have been remodeled and expanded over the past two years to accommodate more visitors. Early stores were in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 square-feet, but the size of stores soon drifted downward to about 3,000 square-feet. With the increased popularity of Apple’s products and more customer dependence on the Genius Bars, larger stores have become a necessity. Recent new stores, even in shopping malls, have been larger, in some cases exceeding the original 6,000 square-foot size. Update: Additional tipsters say that—incredibly—Microsoft will take a portion of the Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn space for a retail store, putting it right next to the expanded Apple store. In addition, Dell will open a store down the hallway at the Harry & David space.
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