Apple to Open Largest China Retail Store in Shanghai This Summer

Apple's four stores in China are already its highest-earning in the world.

BEIJING -- Apple Inc. is planning to open its fifth and biggest store in China on Shanghai’s busiest shopping street this summer, extending its steady expansion into a market where the California company’s four extant stores already are its busiest anywhere in the world.

After news of the plan appeared in Thursday’s Beijing Youth Daily, an Apple spokesperson confirmed details with The Wall Street Journal.

Apple’s four current China stores – two each in Beijing and Shanghai -- are routinely crowded, drawing four times the average daily traffic of their American counterparts, or more than 40,000 people per day.

The fifth store will open on Shanghai’s famous Nanjing Road, a hub of commercial activity serving newly wealthy Chinese consumers scrambling to get iPads, iPhone 4s and the latest and fastest Macintosh computers in an increasingly Internet-addicted society.

Despite strict state controls on digital content, China is home to more mobile phone subscribers and Internet users than any other nation and has the second greatest number of personal computer users. Forrester Research predicts China’s online retail market will climb 27% a year to hit $159.4 billion in 2015, up from $48.8 billion in 2010.

Apple previously said it planned to open 25 stores in China this year, but an Apple spokesman told the Journal that the plan to open bigger stores might slow expansion in terms of number of outlets.

Apple’s recent stepped-up efforts to crack the China market resulted in $2.6 billion in revenue from Greater China, including Taiwan and Hong Kong – four times greater than the previous year.

In a Jan. 18 earnings call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the company’s four China stores had the highest traffic and the highest revenue on average of any Apple store in the world.