Coronavirus: Apple reopens more than half of its retail stores in China

A couple wearing facemasks to protect against the coronavirus walk outside an Apple Store in Beijing on Feb 22, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - Apple is reopening more than half of its retail stores in China, trying to rebound from a sales hit tied to the coronavirus.

As of Monday (Feb 24), 29 of 42 Apple stores in the country are opening, according to a review of the company's retail websites. Most of these locations are still operating on shortened hours. Some outlets will be open for fewer than 8 hours. That compares with a typical 12-hour day, depending on location.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant hasn't said when the remaining stores will reopen. However, some Apple websites for specific stores show that operating hours will return to normal as early as the end of this week.

Apple's retail footprint in China is critical to the company's sales. The store closures were one of two main reasons for Apple saying it wouldn't meet its revenue target of at least US$63 billion (S$88 billion) in the current quarter ending in March.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told employees last week that retail locations in China were "starting to reopen, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated." Earlier on Monday, an analysis of official Chinese data showed that Apple's China iPhone shipments dropped in January as the coronavirus began to spread.

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