What Apple and a convenience store have in common

Apple retail store

Customers test IPads, on April 4, 2012 at an Apple retail store inside the Confluence shopping centre in Lyon, on the day of its inauguration.

There’s a new study out from eMarketer that measures how much profit stores squeeze out per square foot.  Apple leads the pack, at $4,551 a foot.  Most of the retailers at the top of the list sell expensive stuff. 

“Clearly the high-end consumer has more discretionary dollars to spend, driving strong sales per square foot," says Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics. "You don’t see many discounters on here, or department stores.”

But you do see Murphy USA, which runs a chain of gas station convenience stores.  It came in second.  Weird, right?  Maybe not, says Gary Rosenberger of EconoPlay, who follows these kinds of trends. We spoke while he was on a roadtrip and had, ironically enough, filled up at a Murphy location in Dillon, S.C.

Rosenberger says the place was packed, with about ten people in line ahead of him.

“And everybody there was in line basically either to buy lottery tickets or cigarettes,” he says.

Rosenberger says Murphy sells lots of people lots of stuff, but there’s another reason the retailers on this list are profitable:  Most of them don’t have to worry about online competition, and they’re making their stores a destination.   Take Restoration Hardware, for example. 

“They’ve been fairly explicit about that saying we want people to come in, spend time here, hang out here,”  says Nicole Perrin, the executive editor of eMarketer.

They’re adding restaurants and rooftop gardens to some stores. Anything to squeeze out one more dollar, per square foot. 

 

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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