Despite its primordial role in the development of electronics and a tech-driven population, Japan has the second-slowest retail store growth rate among the 12 countries where Apple operates. In contrast, the enormous revenue potential of China hasn’t accelerated store growth in that country beyond six stores in four years. The differing rates of expansion show there are many factors that bear upon the growth of an international retail chain, not just acceptance and use of technology. Japan’s first Apple store opened in November 2003 and there are now seven stores in the country, more than China and two other countries. But in a comparison of how quickly Apple has rolled out new stores, Japan ties for last place with Switzerland, both logging about 440 days between store openings. At the other end of the growth comparison, the United States understandably leads, with one store opening an average of every 16 days. Slightly behind the U.S. are the UK, France, Spain, Australia and Canada, with new stores every 79 to 116 days. Germany, Italy and China rank in the middle of the comparison with stores in the range of every 158 to 233 days.
It’s not possible to directly correlate per-country revenues, the number of retail stores and the growth rate of Apple’s chain by country, since Apple does not report its Retail Segment revenues by geographic area. However, the company does sometimes comment on its overall sales strengths for various regions during quarterly financial meetings.
For example, during a financial conference call with analysts last April, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Spain sales were weak for the previous quarter, but that overall sales in India were up 300 percent. There are seven stores in Spain, and the country has the fifth-fastest store growth rate. There are no Apple stores in India.
Last February Cook noted that Asia sales were up 58 percent from the year-ago quarter. His comment raised speculation that Apple could move to increase the number of stores in Japan from seven. But significantly, no new stores have opened in Japan since June 2006.
Specifically, Apple has previously said it would open 24 stores in China by the end of 2012. But after the first store opened in July 2008, only five other stores have opened. Tipsters have identified at least nine future store locations in China, but their eventual openings would still be short of Apple’s earlier goal.
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