In the five years since the iPhone launched, Apple created a total of 35,852 retail jobs.
Some of those jobs came from new store openings. The total store count went from 172 to 361, more than doubling. But the growth in employment was faster: from about 6400 to 42,200, more than quintupling. This is reflected in the total number of employees per store which increased from 37 in Q1 2007 to 117 in Q1 2012.
Apple has removed shelving, registers and almost all non-Apple merchandise. It has replaced the visible stock with tables on which rest products that can be used. If there weren’t any people in the store, the store would look almost completely empty, just an open space.
But that’s the whole point. The stores are designed to be filled with people. The stores have an open layout because it allows more people to be inside the store at the same time. And the more people the more employees.
Lots of good graphs at the link. The ability to drive foot traffic in Apple’s stores is no doubt related to their enormously popular products, but it is true that their stores always LOOK packed. Because they are. With customers and employees. Who are not on commission, by the way.
Indeed, the sheer number of employees in a store of modest size (117 employees on an average of about 8k sq. ft.) implies a brazen disregard for the economic orthodoxy of retail efficiency and incentives to sell.
Hype and branding. It’s a marvellously integrated offering, the Apple brand. THAT is evidence of the Steve Jobs genius.