How to Put 370 Million Apple Store Visitors in Perspective [Update]

| Analysis

[Update: This article originally focused on Apple's quarterly foot traffic of 120 million people through its retail stores. It has been updated to focus on the 370 million people who visited an Apple Store in 2012. - Bryan]

Apple CEO Tim Cook reminded us on Tuesday that 370 million people visited an Apple Store during 2012. It's a stunning number, and we thought it would be interesting to put together some pretty charts that helps put that total in perspective.

Mr. Cook mentioned the number during his on-stage interview with Bill Shope at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. Apple has long cited the number of customers through its doors as a prime reason why they company doesn't need to participate in trade shows such as Macworld/iWorld or CES.

Let's start with by comparing this number to some other big and popular things. For instance, Disney's theme park empire is legendary. In 2011 (the most recent year numbers are available), Disney saw 125 million people through its gates (The Atlantic originally compared this annual number to Apple's quarterly number).

Apple Store Visitors

All numbers for 2012, except for Disney, which is for 2011
Chart by The Mac Observer

This doesn't make for a direct comparison, of course. Disney's parks are far larger, but there are only 13 of them compared to roughly 394 Apple Stores that were open in 2012. There are other considerations, but our intent is simply to offer some perspective on Apple's foot traffic.

A more interesting number to us, however, is the notion that far more people visited an Apple Store than went to a Major League Baseball game in 2012 (74.9 million, according to ESPN). Again, it's not direct comparison, but it does put Apple's popularity in comparison.

We found it interesting because baseball is an American institution. It's monolithic. It's a thing, so to speak, but many more people are taking a trip to an Apple Store than watching a ball game live.

That difference is even more stark if you look at the number of people who went to an NFL football game in 2012 (17.2 million, according to ESPN). Both sporting platforms have far, far more viewers on TV than ticket buyers in a stadium, but we're talking visitors, here.

How about the biggest TV events in the U.S? How do they compare? The Grammy Awards in 2012 claimed 39.9 million viewers of the award ceremony, less than a third of Apple's total. That's a one-night event, but again, our point is perspective.

The Super Bowl is bigger still, with an average viewership of 111.3 million people watching the Super Bowl in 2012, according to Reuters. The NFL claimed that more than 160 million people total watched the game for at least 6 minutes. Note that this is still not as many people as Apple saw in its retail stores.

One area where Apple is dwarfed is the number of people buying movie tickets. In the U.S. alone, some 1.37 billion people bought movie tickets in 2012, an impressive number considering that U.S. population sits at 315.3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Still, as shown in the chart below, Apple's total retail traffic is a surprisingly significant percentage of that total, at 27 percent.

Apple Store vs. Movie Tickets

Chart by The Mac Observer

We thought it appropriate to look at Apple's retail visitor total as a percentage of world population, which the Census Bureau estimates to be 7.07 billion. What's surprising, is that Apple's traffic is a more-than-discernible sliver of the total available pie, as shown below.

Apple Store vs. Global Population

Chart by The Mac Observer

For those keeping score at home, approximately 5.2 percent of the world visited an Apple Store in 2012.

A couple of commenters wanted to see Apple's retail traffic compared to other retailers. That seems like a splendid idea, so let's look at Best Buy and Wal-mart.

Best Buy has some 1,100 stores around the world, counting its Express locations and affiliate locations under different brand names. According to a Best Buy PDF (full of PowerPoint slides), the company had some 600 million in-store visitors in fiscal 2012. That's roughly 62 percent more customers than Apple with almost three times as many stores.

Wal-mart is the largest retailer on the planet, with more than 4,500 locations in the U.S. alone, and another 1,500+ spots in the rest of the world. Tracking down specifics for Wal-mart foot traffic was difficult, but the company's "Our Story" webpage claimed 200 million visitor each and every week.

Accordingly, the chart below shows Wal-mart with 10.4 billion visitors per year, much more than the total population of the world (above). Wal-mart also employs some 2.1 million people.

Apple Store vs. Retail Giants

Chart by The Mac Observer

In that, Apple's visitor count seems small, even though Apple's fleet of retail stores generate more profit per square foot than any other chain in the world, including luxury store Tiffany's.

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19 Comments Leave Your Own

Colin

Ok…  I get it.  But compare to another retail giant.  How many people visited a Walmart or Target last year?  How about a Best Buy or Staples?  These are fun - but off the mark.  And no one visited the Super Bowl!  Well the 72,000 lucky folks who got a ticket i guess did.  The rest watched it on TV.

Perry Clease

Well you can also buy Apple products at Walmart and Target.

palenoue

So if Apple put rides and roller coasters in their stores, they’d get more people than disney?  I’m all for that!

name

“For those keeping score at home, approximately 1.69 percent of the world visited an Apple Store in 2012.”

For clarification, is this the 120mil a count of number of people or number of visit? for example if I was I was at the mall waiting for my wife and decided to stop at apple just to play around or surf the web on their devices and this happened 50 times in 2012. Does this count as 1 or 50?

If this is counted as 50, then the last statement in the article is incorrect.
If it is counted as 1, do we know how they were able to count this #?

Bryan Chaffin

Name, it’s total visitor count. Apple has never specified, but generally speaking such numbers do not count uniques (unlike, say, what is common practice on the Internet).

In the chart I just added, for instance, Wal-mart has more visitors than the Earth has people.

Bryan Chaffin

Colin, I don’t think the original article missed the mark, it was simply aiming for a different mark. Your suggestion (I also got some email suggesting the same thing) was fantastic, however, so I added a chart with Best Buy and Wal-mart number.

Thanks for the note!

1stplacemacuser

name,

Clearly they’re counting your 50 visits as 50 different visits and not 1 person visiting.  I mean, if they managed to count 1.37 billion people going to the movies, it’s clear that it’s not 1.37 billion different people going to the movies, since there’s only 300 million in the US (and the count of movie goers referred to just in the US). Now, the number of people seeing the SuperBowl, while estimated, is counting unique viewers, since the event is a one-time event. However, the number of people attending MLB or NFL count people who attend multiple games as separate people.

Sandy Miller

This is kind of a fanboy comment, given how biasedthe comparisons are:

- it seems like half of the comparions are somewhat off and the author realizes that, but then who cares, let’s just add a “it’s not direct comparison, but it does put Apple’s popularity in comparison”, a “but we’re talking visitors, here.”, or a “our point is perspective” and even the questionable comparisons become legitimatized;
- in the one case where Apple doesn’t look great - movie tickets - no problem, the rhetoric gets immediately rephrased: yes, Apple numbers are dwarfed, but “Still, [...], Apple’s total retail traffic is a surprisingly significant percentage of that total, at 8.6 percent.” - without an independent standard of comparison, any number can declared “a surprisingly significant percentage”. Surprising against what expectation? Would it also have been “surprisingly significant” if it had been 4.3%? This is just raving without a basis.
- same logic re World population: when would the sliver be too small so you don’t rave about it?

Why isn’t Apple’s number compared to other big enterprises? Would it be better to normalize it against typical customer size (families for Disney, maybe individuals for Apple)? This is just an embarrassing “I wanna say Apple is successful and whatever numbers I see, I will make them fit”, either by disregarding the inappropriateness of the comparison or by just omitting what my standard of greatness is. I like Apple products, but plz, this is pathetic and you’re embarrassing yourself and those Apple readers who haven’t turned off critical thinking skills.

Bryan Chaffin

Hey Sandy. Don’t mistake this as some sort of contest. This article isn’t about Apple beating or being beaten by anything. It was simply interesting (to me) to put Apple’s retail numbers in some context with other big numbers many people might find more familiar.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

anovelli

With adequate RFID tagging we could put some serious rigor in this data re: unique visitors. (just kidding folks)

Aside from that, the number of visits is really nothing compared to profitability, which makes all these other comparisons pale.

r2shyyou

To add additional perspective to the ‘Apple vs. Retail Giants’ comparison (and assuming I’ve calculated this correctly), Apple’s total visits compared with the total of all three retailers equates to a paltry 1% (their stores represent 5% of the total of all three).

However, their “visitors per store” percentage compared with the total of all three is much higher than 1%, standing at approximately 12%, with Best Buy at 21% and Walmart at 67%.

What I’d be interested to see if “visitors per square foot” between the three seeing as both Best Buy and Walmart stores are many times larger than any Apple store I’ve visited.

Either way, it’s interesting stuff.

GraphicMac

Unfortunately, these numbers are WAY off.

The 120 million was for the fourth quarter ONLY. The actual numbers (according to Apple) for FY 2012 was around 300 Million. This of course makes the comparisons even more jaw-dropping.

Odd that this mistake was made, as TMO reported this (as well as every other tech blog) last year: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/apple_claims_300_million_apple_store_visitors_in_fiscal_2012

r2shyyou

Odd mistake, indeed.  And according to a transcript of Tim Cook’s comments yesterday, he did specify that the 120 million number was just for the 4th quarter, as you noted.

Using the FY2012 number of 300 million, the comparison is especially startling in relation to Best Buy, where Apple’s “visitors per store” would exceed theirs by 7%:

Apple: 25% (761,421 visitors/store)
Best Buy: 18% (545,455 visitors/store)
Walmart: 57% (1,733,333 visitors/store)
Total: 100% (11.3 billion visitors)

Still would love to see a “visitors per square foot” comparison.

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for catching that, r2shyyou and GraphicMan. I got interested in the numbers after seeing The Atlantic‘s piece that was looking at the Disney numbers. That’s no excuse, though: I made the mistake of not rechecking the source when I went looking for other numbers to compare against.

I apologize for that.

I update the article and charts this morning with the correct numbers.

name

Another interesting angle to this would be #visitors actually end up spending some money.

From the original charts: We can assume that all visitors to Disney, sporting events, and movies are all paying customers where as visitors to Apple store like myself have only purchased once in all the times i have been to the store.

From additional charts: We can say that not all Walmart or Bestbuy visitors end up buying something, (but can assume a high %) since product range are must larger. Although it is fair to also assume that each buying visitor from Apple store may spend much more money then WM or BB visitors, it would be interesting to see a deep dive into these data, as to % of visitor who spend money and how much on the regular.

r2shyyou

@name: I’m not sure what the percentage is of visitors to an Apple store that actually spend money however the revenue per square foot of retail space is know and Apple far exceeds everyone else:

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/apple-beats-tiffany-in-retailsails-list-again

name

@r2shyyou
That was why I said, it would be an interesting angle to look at as we are on the topic of # of visitors.

Apple will absolute have a higher revenue per square foot when compared with WM or BB or even Nordstorm, or any large retailer…. Because Apple store are focus on selling higher price devices (with some accessories). Where as WM have items that are under $1. The same can be said of a place like real estate office where revenue per sqft would be higher as well.

name

@Bryan
For those keeping score at home, approximately 5.2 percent of the world visited an Apple Store in 2012.

I still think this chart and statement as incorrect, or at the very least very bias.

ctopher

Sorry I’m late, I was trying to get out of the Apple Store!

name: You’ve got a point on my scorecard. The Census Bureau is definitely tracking uniques.

What is missing in this analysis comparing the other retailers is the fact that Apple is the Brand and the product. When I go to Target or Wal*Mart I see lots of brands and I do not equate those brands with those retailers. When I go to an Apple store, it is for one brand only. So the Disney, MLB and NFL comparisons are more apt.

Now I realize that you can purchase products from other manufacturers at an Apple store, but I’ve never seen a promotion for any other brand. (No end caps with Belkin cables or Budweiser posters!)

Of course, I had to pay to see my last baseball game, but I don’t pay to visit the Apple Store.

As Branded stores they are unique in their appeal. I wonder what the chart would look like comparing Apple Stores to Sony Stores or Bose Stores or even Sleep Number stores? Actually I don’t wonder, I expect they kick everybody’s Ads!

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