Apple’s store closures are dramatic—but experts say they’ll barely nibble at its bottom line
Most major companies would take a massive financial hit if they closed almost all of their stores around the world for a few weeks. Not so for Apple. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has turned over the closed sign until March 27 for all its retail stores outside of mainland China, but experts Fortune spoke to didn’t seem concerned for the company’s health.
Apple generates between 20% and 30% of its revenue from its brick-and-mortar stores, experts say. But the company relies more on its retail stores for educating its shoppers on the company’s hardware and software than it does selling them gear. The stores also serve as the epicenter of the Apple’s repair activities, facilitated by its Genius Bar.
“Closing the stores will obviously have a short-term impact on retail revenue,” eMarketer retail analyst Andrew Lipsman says. But at least a portion of lost revenue will shift online as buyers get their Apple gear over the Internet instead, he adds.
A year ago, during the fiscal quarter ended in March, Apple generated $58 billion in revenue, making its share from the retail stores between $11 billion and $17 billion.
Trying to approximate those figures for this year, when coronavirus is wreaking havoc, will be difficult. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives believes the store closures will reduce Apple’s revenue this quarter by just about 5%.
Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster thinks a large share of Apple’s anticipated retail store sales will shift online, and the net effect will be a 1% drop in revenue because of the closures. Under that scenario, Apple might only take a $100 million bite.
Most importantly, the experts say, the iPhone-maker won’t need to dip into its massive cash reserves to blunt its revenue shortfall. “They will be profitable and continue to generate cash” during the closure, Ives says.
Munster agrees, but even if the store closures don’t affect Apple’s business, it could affect shareholders.
“This will likely temper any increases to the company’s annual increase to its dividend,” Munster says. Ives believes Apple may use its cash to buy shares from investors to buoy its stock, which is down to $242 a share—a significant drop from its $319 share price just a month ago.
Ultimately, the experts say Apple closed its stores to protect its employees and customers, not to blunt slowdowns in its supply chain.
“I think the decision to close stores was an act of leadership on Apple’s part,” Lipsman says. “When companies like Apple and Nike make this decision, others will follow suit.”
Ives says he “loudly applauds” Apple’s decision, and sees it as the company “putting their employees and customers ahead of selling iPhones.”
Looking ahead, analysts agree Apple will move past the impact COVID-19 is having on its business. They say Apple’s profitability and cash reserves help it weather disruptions better than many other companies.
And when COVID-19 becomes a less disruptive force in daily life, they expect Apple to get back to business as usual.
“In short,” Lipsman says, “[Apple will] be fine.”
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