The chart below was just tweeted by Horace Dediu of Asymco, one of the top Apple analysts.
The chart shows global foot traffic to Apple stores worldwide each quarter. As you can see, the number of visitors to Apple stores is still growing, but at a flattening rate.
The key questions that flow from this are whether traffic growth is slowing because Apple is opening fewer stores as a percentage of its store base or whether the growth in excitement about Apple products is beginning to wane (or both).
If it’s the former — Apple opening fewer stores — the question is whether Apple has picked all the low-hanging fruit in terms of location and therefore just can’t find that many great places to put new stores, or… whether Apple’s year without a head of global retail has disrupted the expansion of the retail business.
Dediu shared some thoughts on these questions on Twitter this morning, as well as an additional chart:
First, Dediu shows that traffic to each Apple store is declining modestly. So that’s part of the answer.
Next, Dediu explains that the traffic to each store depends in part on the size of the store and the “flow” of people through the store. The store renovations that Apple recently announced, Dediu says, will be geared toward improving these. Dediu also pointed out that the average spending per visitor in the stores is very steady — “around $US50 since the iPad launched, $US40 prior.”
So at first glance it seems like most of the answer is a slowdown in the growth of Apple’s stores, as measured by square footage as opposed to number of stores. And the key question that stems from that is whether the market opportunity for new Apple stores is becoming saturated or whether Apple just isn’t opening them fast enough.
Dediu is writing an article on the topic, so we’ll get some additional answers soon. Check Asymco’s site for the latest. And please share your own thoughts and info in comments below or send to [email protected]