Apple unveils largest flagship store in Asia-Pacific region in Beijing
Published: Jul 17, 2020 11:50 AM

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Apple unveiled its largest flagship store in Beijing on Friday. It is the company's second flagship store globally, the first of which is in New York, and the biggest in the Asia-Pacific region. The move comes at a time when a large number of its retail stores outside China remain shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new store is at Sanlitun in Beijing's Chaoyang district, which is the same area where another Apple retail store is located, but the new store is twice the size of the old one.

At the store's opening ceremony before 10 am, the Global Times found a large number of Apple fans lined up in the square outside the store in anticipation. The customer first in line said he had starting to queue up in front of the new store when the old store closed on Wednesday.

The new store requires every customer to wear a face mask, undergo a temperature check, and maintain appropriate social distancing before entering and while shopping in the store. 

Photo: Li Hao/GT

One customer, surnamed Xu, aged 30, said he arrived at 9 am to join the queue. His first Apple product he brought was an iPhone 4 in 2010, but he has since purchased a range of different products including iPhones and headphones. "The Apple ecosystem has got better and better, but I think they tend to launch too many products in one product line, which makes it hard to choose ," he told the Global Times on Friday. 

"The store is very beautiful, but the store's interior design has not changed much compared with the old one," another customer, surnamed Liu, aged 16, told the Global Times. She tried to buy an iPad Pro at the new store once it opened, but found the store had already sold out.

Another customer, surnamed Jiang, said he bought his first Apple product around 2008, and commented that although Apple has an attractive ecosystem, he is worried that Apple's innovation has been lacking in recent years, while the company's prices continue to get higher, frustrating some customers. 

Apple said its new store uses a number of the company's latest retail store innovations, including Forum Interactive Square, Viewing Gallery and Boardroom, and the space dedicated to support services has been expanded to more than double that of the previous store

The first store was opened in July 2008, before the 2008 Olympic Games were held in Beijing. It has since welcomed more than 22 million visitors, equivalent to the total number of permanent residents in Beijing, Apple said. 

In the 12 years since Apple opened its first retail store in China, the California-based technology giant has expanded its number of retail shops to 42 across 14 provinces on the Chinese mainland. 

The new store was initially scheduled to open in March, according to a statement in January from the Chaoyang district office under the Beijing Municipal Commission of Planning and Natural Resources. 

Photo: Li Hao/GT

In April, as the pandemic's impacts were controlled in China, Apple sold 3.9 million iPhones in the country due to pent-up demand, according to Shanghai-based CINNO Research. However, that figure soon dropped to 3.6 million in May. 

On Tuesday, Bloomberg cited a video message sent to Apple employees that said the company is looking to push its retail staff to work remotely as the pandemic will undoubtedly force it to close some stores as COVID-19 outbreaks continue in the US as well as other countries. 

More than 90 of Apple's 271 retail shops in the US have had to close their doors for a second time due to secondary outbreaks, Bloomberg reported. 

Global Times