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Apple retail stores still crowded at 8400 average square feet

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When the first Apple Store opened 11 years ago, Apple felt that 6,000-square-foot stores were the perfect size. Apple's fiscal 2011 10-K report showed that the average size of an Apple Store has creeped up to 8,400 square feet per store, but Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf says that the retail stores are "bulging at the seams" and just aren't big enough.

As reported by AppleInsider, Wolf says that the number of visitors per store has grown at a 15.3 percent annual rate. Apple is responding by moving some stores to larger locations. In New York City's SoHo neighborhood, for example, Apple is expanding its store -- requiring a US$1.4 million investment in a temporary store to serve customers during construction.

The same thing is happening on the West Coast. Apple's Palo Alto store is being replaced by a new 15,030-square-foot "prototype" store that may serve to test new store designs. That store is literally within spitting distance of the original store.

Megastores are also being built in a number of locations. The 30,000-square-foot store in London's Covent Garden, the 16,000-square-foot Pudong store in Shanghai, and the 20,000-square-foot Grand Central Terminal store in New York City are all examples of these flagship facilities that are designed to handle the huge crowds that gather to daily buy Apple gear.

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