- Business Insider
When Steve Jobs wanted Apple to develop a line of retail stores, he hired George Blankenship. Under his watch, 165 Apple Stores would open nationwide – including the iconic cube on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
Despite malls and shopping centers closing in record numbers, Blankenship – who served as Apple’s vice president of real estate from 2000 to 2006 – says reports of a “retail apocalypse” are ridiculous.
“I think this whole apocalypse thing is ridiculous,” he told Business Insider’s Matt Turner in a wide-ranging interview about his time at Apple and Tesla. “What’s happened in the United States is there’s more retail space than there needs to be. Depending on who you talk to, there are about 1,200 regional, mall-type shopping centers out there. I think there’s about 800. 400 of them are going to survive, and I think about 300 of them are going to thrive.”
Blankenship says retail stores will undergo a fundamental shift – instead of being inundated by shelves stacked to the brim with merchandise, they’ll feature experiences more prominently.
Apple stores were on the forefront of this, with their relatively open floor plans focused on product displays for people to test out iPhones, iPads. Here’s more from Blankenship:
“Millennials, Gen-X’ers, they want to experience things. You can buy it on the web and pick it up in the store. How many people bought an iPhone 8 and picked it up in an Apple store the other day? I don’t know, but I’m sure it was a bunch. Where did they go to do that? To the Apple store in the shopping center that everybody says is going to be dead. They’re putting in grocery stores into it, they’ve got the theatre. As developers start to step back and put more technology in the centers and have the best, fastest WiFi, easy shopping, and then delivery, the shopping center has a bright future, just in a different way.”
But even Apple has seen a shift in revenue that mirrors this evolution of retail. Apple Services, which includes the App Store and subscriptions, is quickly catching up to iPhone sales as the biggest source of income for the company.
“I know some of the developers out there and they’re doing a good job looking ahead and identifying what can be done,” Blankenship said. “They’re moving toward that direction to make the shopping mall an experience place where you want to go.”
Shares of Apple are up 32% this year.
- Markets Insider