Besides delaying the release of the 5G Apple iPhone 12 family, COVID-19 has also interfered with Apple's retail stores. Back in January, Apple started closing retail locations in China. By the following month, all 42 Apple Stores in the country were closed only to reopen a month later. But as the virus made it's way west, Apple shut all of its stores outside of China by the middle of March. Quite optimistically, the tech giant at first hoped to reopen them on March 27th. But it wasn't until May that Apple started turning the lights back on inside its U.S. retail locations.
protesters looted several state-side Apple Stores following the police-related death of George Floyd. What the looters didn't know was that iPhone units snatched from an Apple Store won't work. One store in Minneapolis was looted, boarded up, looted again, and boarded up again. Another store in Portland had tall windows smashed on all sides just two days after reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown. At that point, of the 271 U.S. Apple Stores, 140 had reopened.But this is 2020 so of course, that wasn't the end of the story. As May was coming to a close,
Today, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple plans on reopening a small number of U.S. Apple Stores late this month. These locations had closed due to the uptrend of coronavirus cases in certain markets. People with knowledge of the situation say that for the immediate future, the stores will operate on an appointment-only basis. The sources say that employees have been informed by Apple of its plans; the company says that the stores will each follow local guidelines to determine the maximum number of shoppers allowed inside at one time and the social distancing required. During the peak of the pandemic with most U.S. stores shuttered, some Apple Store employees ended up handling technical support calls from home while others continued to get paid while waiting around for the store they worked at to reopen.
Apple would surely like to have most of its retail store infrastructure at full strength as it prepares to introduce some new devices for the fall including the first 5G iPhone models, a new tablet, and the next Apple Watch.