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Apple’s classy glass-cubed city retail stores are defying the recession, according to a Bloomberg report.

Apple’s classy glass-cubed city retail stores are defying the recession, according to a Bloomberg report.

Sales at all US retailers fell 9.2 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the first half of 2008, according to the US Commerce Department. But in the same period revenue at Apple’s stores increased by 2.5 percent to US$3 billion.

It isot known how well the Australian store operations are doing.

Apple’s store performance in the last year has been driven by the iPhone, according Needham & Co analyst Charlie Wolf, who also credits the stores for being as much about service as shopping. He said Apple over-staffs the outlets so that customers get help quickly, while the store workers and the classes they run on how to use Apple products help establish an infectious “community-like” atmosphere.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer recently reported that the retail operation saw a 22 percent increase in traffic during the quarter ended June 27, pulling
38.6 million visitors. Around the world, Apple now has more than 200 stores.

 The lesson hasn’t been lost on Microsoft which is rushing to open its own chain of big-city retail stores. It hired Apple’s former head of real estate David Porter to select sites, and is now advertising for staff for the first two stores, in Scottsdale, Arizona and Mission Viejo, California.

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