Apple Store Fifth AvenueSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple's former SVP of Retail talked about the company with Yahoo! Finance.
  • Ron Johnson said that Apple did the right thing by quickly closing its retail stores.
  • He also thinks the company will use China as a playbook for reopening its other stores.

Apple's retail stores have been closed for weeks now outside of Greater China, where Apple slowly reopened its stores as areas became safer from the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, the company's former Senior Vice President of Retail, Ron Johnson, said that he believes that Apple has taken the right approach to the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson says that Apple not only did the right thing by quickly shuttering its retail locations in China when the outbreak occurred, but that their approach to reopening and operating the stores was also done in a responsible way.

"Apple has the benefit. They're always proactive and thinking ahead. They have nearly 50 stores in China that they shut down immediately when the issues happened in Wuhan. And they slowly, over a six-week period of time, as I understand it, reopened those stores. But when they reopened those stores, it was a different experience. They did a lot of things to ensure safety, whether it was changing what programs are offered in the store, how many customers can come in a store at a time."

Johnson also believes that the company is in a better position than most, as a large part of its business is done through its online store. Because of that, he does not believe Apple will reopen its retail locations until the company is certain of the safety of its employees and customers. The former SVP also believes that Apple will use the approach they are taking in China as a playbook for the rest of the world.

"Apple's a pro at delivering safe service, and they've got a playbook from what happened in China. I would guess down in Cupertino they are starting to think through, 'how do we reopen, when do we reopen.' But they will only do it when it's safe. You know, they have the benefit of a very strong online store, so if a customer needs an Apple product they can buy online. But they will want to reopen their stores, but they're not going to hurry. They're going to do it when it's safe."

About a week ago, an internal memo from Apple's current Senior Vice President of Retail and People, Deirdre O'Brien, showed that the company was potentially planning on reopening some of its stores in the first half of this month. The decision to reopen would be made only if local conditions allowed for it, and employees would be notified in advance. At this time, no stores outside of Greater China have reopened.