Changes are afoot at the Apple store, which has lost some of its shine, no longer as much a draw for spend-happy suburbanites. The sleek store-fronts that "changed the retail game" back in 2001, saw a $4 billion drop in sales last quarter — the first year-over-year drop since 2009. The novelty of an Apple store at the mall has worn off, and without a head of retail at Apple headquarters, the stores have stagnated. "Since he [Ron Johnson, of JC Penney fame] left, the stores have been basically the same from a customer-service point of view," a former Apple store worker told The Wall Street Journal's Ian Sherr and Joann S. Lublin. Since Johnson left in 2011, Apple has left the retail business unattended by an official leader and it's starting to show.
In addition to cutting back on basic supplies, like paper, pens, and replacement logo stamped T-shirt uniforms, Apple has asked workers to focus on sales rather than customer service. "The company's internal communications shifted to sales from a focus on customer service — an experience that Apple had finely tuned," Sherr and Lublin write. Staff assigned to the Genius Bar were told to hit the sales floor in between classes, for example. Genius Bar employees don't bring in that many buyers, and the time spent with them doesn't always result in a purchase.