Post-COVID-19: The Apple Store experience could change forever

Apple Avalon Ga
Apple Avalon Ga (Image credit: Apple)

It's been a long time since I've been to a physical Apple Store. Post-COVID-19, perhaps I'll reconsider this for precisely the same reason millions of other buyers might now forgo the brick and mortar stores temporarily or forever.

Apple stores long ago were designed for inclusiveness, allowing visitors the opportunity to play around with demo products before making a purchase. The built-in Genius Bars were another big part of the Apple retail experience, providing customers with on-hands technical support and advice. Finally, there were the free training sessions for novice and experts alike.

Apple's set to re-open up to 25 retail stores in the United States this week as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease. If those re-openings are anything like the ones Apple has already performed overseas, we can expect lots of social distancing, temperature checks, and limits to how many people are allowed in the stores at the same time. We'll also see deep cleaning of all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas. And this says nothing about the masks everyone will be required to wear today and into the future.

Apple Southdale Minn

Apple Southdale Minn (Image credit: Apple)

It's excellent Apple has decided to start re-opening some of its stores, even with the restrictions in place. Looking ahead, everyone would benefit if many of these limits remain even after COVID-19 exits. Other changes would also be useful.

I never considered myself a germaphobe, but have always been nervous about visiting small spaces with lots of people. It's this reason alone that I rarely visited Apple retail stores in the past, instead choosing to make purchases online, and limiting visits to when I needed technical support only.

One of the ways Apple brings people into its stores is by offering demo tables where you can test new products. These beautifully designed wooden tables attract hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors a day, depending on the store. Instead of deep cleaning these tables, Apple would be better off removing most of them, thereby limit the number of people visiting and making it healthier for everyone else.

The company might also want to consider dividing its stores into different areas using physical walls. For example, have an appointment-only section for those seeking technical support, and another for instruction. In the front, Apple could keep its sales operations going but without as many display tables.

The current restrictions will no doubt keep the number of visitors to Apple retail stores at bay. With these restrictions, I plan on visiting an Apple store soon and celebrate its reopening. I'll continue going if sensible limits remain. Otherwise, I'll go back online!

Are you planning on visiting an Apple retail store soon? Let us know the reasons for your decision below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

  • "I never considered myself a germaphobe, but have always been nervous about visiting small spaces with lots of people. " LOL, you are a germophobe, and it's evident by your article. What you describe, e.g., removing all the tables, putting up partitions, etc., is not a store. No, Apple is not going to remove all the tables so they can't display their products. I assume you have been staying inside your home while hundreds of millions of Americans have been going to stores, handling produce, canned goods, etc., that others have touched, etc. Once you hear about the malls and stores being full and no one dying, you'll have renewed confidence to go out as well. In the meantime, take heart in the statistics that show a 99.5% or better survival rate for the average person who gets infected. As America opens up, the rates just keep falling. Great news!
  • The 70,000 people who have already died from coronavirus, plus all the people across the country who currently have it and are in hospital, were people who were going about their daily lives "and no one dying" when they caught it, so I don't get your logic here. The shelter-in-place orders have actually slowed the advance of deaths, hopefully so that, in a delicate balance of economic loss and death-toll, time can be bought to find a cure, treatment, or vaccine for the disease. Yes, there has been a "cost of doing business" to this in economic losses, but you are demanding a cost of doing business just the same with your dismissal of the deaths of innocent people by opening things back up full throttle. You are essentially saying that lives do not matter, those people are going to die anyway, so let's get them dead and out of our way.
  • It's sad that you live in such a binary world where everyone you agree with is evil. That type of mentality is what is so destructive to our society. No, I am not "essentially saying that lives don't matter." If I followed your approach, I would point out that you don't care about the lives lost and destroyed due to suicide, or cancer deaths or stroke or heart attacks that are increasing because people aren't receiving check ups or treatments. I would say you don't care about the horrendous increase in domestic violence or child abuse that is taking place. And of course, you don't give a RA about the lives that are being destroyed because people, disproportionately poorer people, who are losing jobs, homes, etc., because of it. I won't accuse you of all that, because I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are simply misinformed about the reason for the lockdown, the results of up to date research, etc. For example, to begin with, please don't mischaracterize those who died from COVID19 as people who were "just going about their lives" when they caught it. First, over 90% had serious underlying morbidities, probably close to have were from nursing homes, many died from heart attacks, cancer, etc., but are labeled as COVID deaths because of CDC guidelines that need to change to prevent distorting the number of deaths. None of that is devalue any individual life. Also, like many people, you haven't understood what it means to "flatten the curve." It was never to change the number of infected, the area under the curve remains the same, it's just "flattened" by delaying the infections so that the hospitals and health care system wasn't overwhelmed by them occurring all at once. Fortunately, the early estimates were entirely off and combined with the early lockdown efforts, our hospital system fared very well. Indeed, sadly, the major impact to our hospital and medical system has been human suffering in terms of nurses, aides and even doctors around the country being furloughed from lack of work. The other costs have been the deaths and injury caused by delayed treatment and diagnoses of millions of illnesses. A sad and painful lesson that the US and other countries have now learned. Lastly, the point is really that you and anyone else is free to shelter forever if you want, but we now know enough that most governors and the vast majority of Americans realize it's time to end the death and destruction that I've outline above and move to a evidence based, science driven approach of keeping those that are truly vulnerable (aged and infirm) well protected as we develop effective therapeutics, and perhaps a vaccine, while the rest get back to their normal lives. I hope it comforts you that even in NY, the worst hit state by far, Governor Cuomo concedes their most recent tests show that the infection fatality rate is at most .5%, compared to their seasonal flu IFR of .2%. This means that the average person has a 99.5% or better chance of surviving an infection. In the states that never locked down, and those that did lock down but have now begun opening up for over three weeks, the predictions of doom have not materialized, also fantastic news. I hope you find some peace, and will consider that you don't need to demonize those you disagree with.
  • Haha, I was just going to write the same thing. He is a super germaphobe.
  • I don't really need to read this article to say that the answer is no. It's a virus, it could easily be spread just by someone touching a surface that somebody else has touched then touching your mouth later. What about asymptomatic people? The temperature checks will have no use on them. Then how do you police the social distancing? Is an Apple Genius going to shout at you because you were less than 2 metres away from someone else for half a second? Are all the Apple devices going to start signalling each other to let people know if they're too close? Basically, the reason the Apple Store is re-opening is simply money. The general advice around the world is to stay at home if possible. You shouldn't go to the Apple Store if you don't need to
  • What a PC crap dumb article.
    "Apple stores long ago were designed for inclusiveness". WTF does that mean? It implies that other stores aren't. I haven't seen any stores that don't let Blacks, Gays and Jews in.
    Actually, apple stores aren't very inclusive for the handicapped. They are always packed with people , and I imagine trying to move around there in a wheelchair isn't easy. Furthermore the Genius Bar isn't very genius. They treat your apple product as though it was human. If I have a cracked screen on my phone and I want it fixed, they won't just let me come in and drop it off, and call me when its fixed. I have to make an appointment, get "checked in", wait another 30 minutes and then someone will see me. Try getting an appointment thru their awful system that doesn't let you see availability more than a week in advance.