Apple plans to open its 12th Apple Store in mainland China early next month, in Jiangu’s province’s Wuxi. This latest expansion of the US device maker’s retail network comes as other luxury brands have slowed the opening of new stores this year.
Apple announced its Wuxi store last week, just before the opening of its eleventh outlet China outlet in the western metropolis of Chongqing this past Saturday. This newest shop will open in Hang Lung’s Center 66 shopping mall on August 2nd. Wuxi is just west of Suzhou in eastern China, and less than one hour from Shanghai by high-speed train.
In addition to the stores in Wuxi and Chongqing, Apple is expected to open more new outlets this year in the cities of Hanghzhou, Shenyang, Tianjin and Zhengzhou – and is said to already be recruiting staff in these cities.
Retail Slowdown Creating Leasing Opportunities for Apple?
This rapid expansion by Apple may be the result of increasing flexibility by developers as many high end retail brands have pulled back on opening stores.
A survey in the last several months by Knight Frank found that 65 percent of luxury retailers missed their targets for new store openings last year, and that trend has been accentuated this year as high-end brands have begun to fear a pivot by China’s consumers away from conspicuous buying.
This slow-down for other brands may be providing Apple with the leverage that it needs to implement its long planned expansion.
Apple, which is well-known for its high expectations for its retail locations, as well as its low expectations for rental rates, had in 2010 announced the goal of opening 25 stores across China by the end of 2012. However the Cupertino, California-based company has found it challenging to secure suitable locations under its preferred terms.
Now that fewer brands are expanding, developers may be finding Apple’s high-style but low-rent offers more appealing.