Expansions, Moves, Openings Mark New Year

February 15, 2012

The typically quiet post-New Year period for Apple retail is being interrupted by news of a grand opening, store expansions and moves, and rumors of future stores. Historically, the company opens over one-half of its new stores in the last four months of each year, leaving the first quarter for planning, renovations and upgrades. The most obvious new action is the reveal of the future Leidseplein (Amsterdam) store, where the construction barricade was removed this week, revealing orange-colored covers on the windows stating, “Coming Soon.” The store is located in a heritage building on a prominent street corner, and includes a spiral glass staircase connecting the two levels of retail space. The store could open on February 25th.

Next, the existing Carousel Center (NY) mini-store will move into an larger location some time later this year. Numerous sources point to construction near the Clark’s store for the full-size future store, down the second-level hallway from the existing store. Carousel opened in November 2004 as one of nine mini-stores, which were paired with nearby full-size stores for management and inventory. However, in the case of Carousel, their “sister” store was strangely 95 miles away at Crossgates in Albany. Over the years Apple has converted four of the mini-stores to full-size locations. The expanded Carousel store could open by mid-year.

Thirdly, sources say the Walt Whitman (NY) retail store is scheduled for a move to a larger space some time this year. The store opened on Long Island in May 2003 with a 30-foot wide space. There is no information on where in the mall the new space is located or when the move might occur.

Sources within the real estate industry say Apple has been scouting Adelaide (Australia) for a future store. Specifically, Apple has been in contact with the developer of Rundle Place, an 85-store, four-level complex that will open in 2013. The mall and its associated office tower will be a major boost to city center real estate, and will attract many international retailers, the developer says. Construction has just begun on the project.

Finally, the owners of BayWalk in St. Petersburg (Fla.) say they have been in “conversations” with Apple to bring a store to their mall on the west coast of the state. The Edwards Group purchased the run-down mall last September, and has committed to investments for renovations and upgrades. The nearest Apple stores are about 25 miles away in Tampa, at International Plaza and Westfield Brandon. There is no timeline for the BayWalk renovation work or when Apple might occupy the mall.

The first months of each year are typically quiet for Apple retail, with over one-half of grand openings occurring in the last four months of each calendar year.

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