Apple’s 21 retail stores across Australia will re-open on Thursday after more than 7 weeks locked shut during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Company CEO Tim Cook foreshadowed the move ahead of last week’s quarterly earnings call saying stores would re-open in Australia within one to two weeks.
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A spokesperson for Apple Australia told 9News: “We’re excited to begin welcoming visitors back to our Australia stores later this week. We’ve missed our customers and look forward to offering our support.”
“With many Australians working and learning from home, our initial focus will be providing service and support at the Genius Bar.
“To start, we will open with additional safety procedures including temperature checks, social distancing, and an adjusted schedule, to ensure customers and employees continue to stay healthy.
“Our social distance protocol means a limited number of visitors in the store at one time so there may be a delay for walk-in customers. We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for delivery or in-store pick-up.
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“As always, our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19 and those working around the clock to treat, study, and contain its spread.”
Things won’t be anything like “normal” at Apple Stores though, with temperature checks for customers before entry meaning there won’t be the normal waltz in and casually browse around.
Likewise, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to walk in and get an appointment at the “Genius Bar” for technical help.
Instead, Apple is recommending booking appointments for technical support, and ordering online for in-store pickups for new purchases.
Over the last seven weeks, Apple’s entire support and sales model has been turned on its head. Support has been focused on phone and online chat, with a “mail-in” service option for products.
Sales have shifted entirely online though the company reported record quarterly sales in their Retail earnings for the quarter which ended with stores closed for three weeks.
Expect queues, though many will welcome the face-to-face technical support Apple offers in its retail stores and likely happily wait in line.
A very different queue for Apple used to people lining up around the block for new iPhone launches.
Apple’s flagship Sydney store will remain closed – it has been undergoing a renovation, well before the COVID-19 closers kicked in.
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