Apple's Retail Store Staff Compensation Criticized

In the latest installment of its "iEconomy" series of articles, The New York Times takes a look at Apple's retail stores, examining the compensation offered to its employees responsible for fueling booming sales in the division. The article features quotes from a number of former Apple retail store employees, including MacRumors' own Jordan Golson.


The new report takes the stance that Apple is not paying its retail staff enough given the success of the stores, instead relying on its employees' devotion to the company and a strong fan base providing a massive pool of job applicants to keep its retail stores staffed.

Within this world, the Apple Store is the undisputed king, a retail phenomenon renowned for impeccable design, deft service and spectacular revenues. Last year, the company’s 327 global stores took in more money per square foot than any other United States retailer — wireless or otherwise — and almost double that of Tiffany, which was No. 2 on the list, according to the research firm RetailSails.

Worldwide, its stores sold $16 billion in merchandise.

But most of Apple’s employees enjoyed little of that wealth. While consumers tend to think of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., as the company’s heart and soul, a majority of its workers in the United States are not engineers or executives with hefty salaries and bonuses but rather hourly wage earners selling iPhones and MacBooks.

The report notes that roughly 70% of Apple's 43,000 U.S. workers are retail store employees, with many of them earning in the neighborhood of $25,000 per year. Apple's pay rates are above average for the retail sector, but the Times argues that with each retail store employee bringing in an average of $500,000 in sales per year Apple is not a typical retailer.

The latest iEconomy report comes just days after Apple began offering raises of up to 25% to many of its retail store employees, with speculation suggesting that the move was made to address the criticism set to appear in the report. Apple last week also launched new employee hardware discounts of $500 off of a Mac or $250 off of an iPad, on top of existing 25% employee discounts.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Reuters)

Top Rated Comments

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106 months ago
If the Apple Store don't like their salaries, they are more than welcome to go work somewhere else.

Capitalism wins here.
Score: 69 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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106 months ago
We recently put a job opening up on Craigslist for a small retail store in NY for pretty much a stock boy / delivery boy position at 8 bucks an hour with no health benefits. We got over 200 applicants in 7 days.

Making 12 bucks an hour, plus full medical and 401K in a mall selling computers that essentially sell themselves is pretty sweet in my opinion.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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106 months ago
Wow, yet another anti-capitalism, anti-Apple diatribe from the NYT. What a surprise. Perhaps the government should mandate pay rates based on a company's success in the marketplace. Am I right comrades?
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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106 months ago
Retailing IS hard. I had a brief spell at it after my wife died and I just wanted a job, Any job to take my mind off things. I worked for Tiny Computers (Now long defunct) first part time, and then as a manager in the Cardiff store.

The hours were long, the pressure to sell extended warranties intense, and I left because I believed that the ethos was immoral...I was however very well paid. I hired all female staff based on the theory that they sell better...They did, and my store was consistently top of the sales tables.

I left to start my own business, taking with me many of the staff I had hired!

Any retail environment is tough, and I don't begrudge Apple staff the pay rise one bit. They have to deal with awkward customers on a daily basis.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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106 months ago
I remember working retail - I got crap for compensation besides the ability to work extra shifts every so often. I would regularly ring up transactions for hundreds of dollars. We never sold computers, but I sold the most expensive stuff in the store. I bet if I sold computers only, I would be treated the same way that Apple employees do. And they make more money than I did.

Retail employees almost never make a lot of money - even if the company they work for makes millions of money. That’s just a fact of the retail versus corporate side of business. If you want to make money working retail is not the route to take.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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106 months ago
This is pretty ridiculous, since when do companies "share" their wealth with employees based on dollars earned per square foot? They aren't owners, they're employees. As long as their compensation is comparable to other retail jobs, where's the problem? No one gets rich working retail, that sucks but that's just the way it is. You want to get rich then write some software after leaving the Apple Store.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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