Apple will begin to reopen its US stores from next week, it’s been confirmed, but don’t expect the shopping process to be like it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The company closed its Apple Stores in the US in mid-March, responding to the highly-contagious coronavirus, and focused instead on online sales. The closure was subsequently extended with no specific end-date given.
Since then, Apple has reported all-time and quarterly revenue records for the three month period ending March 28. The company saw revenue up 1-percent year on year, at $58.3 billion, while Services set a new record at $13.3 billion.
Still, the big question among investors and consumers alike was when physical retail stores would reopen. Apple had recently begun to do that outside of the US, with select locations in Australia, Germany, and South Korea opening up again for business. Now the company has confirmed the first four US states that will see Apple Stores get back open for business.
“We’re excited to begin reopening stores in the US next week, starting with some stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama and Alaska,” a spokesperson told CNBC. “Our team is constantly monitoring local heath data and government guidance, and as soon as we can safely open our stores, we will.”
There’ll be provisos to those reopenings, unsurprisingly. For a start, Apple will only be allowing a limited number of people inside at once, in an attempt to preserve some degree of social distancing between customers and staff. It will also be performing temperature checks outside, since fever is one of the symptoms of COVID-19.
It won’t be a retail free-for-all, either. Apple says that its primary focus with its in-person location is to do product repairs. Staff will be equipped with face coverings, as well as subject to temperature checks. For those wanting to buy products, such as iPhones or the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, the recommendation is still to order online for delivery or pick-up.
It’ll be a small number of locations initially. Across those four US states, Apple actually only has six stores in total. It’s unclear whether all six will be opening next week, too.
Even if they did, that leaves 265 locations in the US alone still waiting to return to operations.
Apple recently announced that it was awarding $10 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics, a company which makes sample collection kits for COVID-19 testing.
“This funding will allow COPAN Diagnostics to rapidly accelerate their supply of sample collection kits for hospitals across the United States, expanding production from several thousand today to more than one million kits per week by early July,” Apple said in a statement. “As part of this effort, Apple will support COPAN Diagnostics’ expansion to a new, larger facility in Southern California, with advanced equipment that Apple is helping design.”