FORTUNE — It is likely that there is no retail outlet in the world that generates as much cash per square foot than an Apple Store.
That’s certainly true of the U.S., according to the latest top 10 list from Retail Sails, which ranks U.S. chain stores by their productivity (see chart at right).
Apple (AAPL) was No. 1 last year, generating sales twice as efficiently as Tiffany’s at No. 2, and it is No. 1 again this year — despite the unhappy reign of Dixon’s John Browett and a recent slowdown in same-store sales.
But as Needham’s Charlie Wolf keeps reminding us, the purpose of the stores is less to move product than it is to market the company — to be the face of Apple. Even before customers began queuing up to buy the latest iPhone or iPad, Apple’s brick and mortar outlets were the key to getting Windows users to switch to the Mac.
For a detailed, up-to-date analysis of the Apple’s retail operations, see Horace Dediu’s Minding the Store at Asymco.com.