The Apple retail model is unique compared to most large retail chains in the world. Even though Apple products are sold by thousands of other retailers, Apple's own company-owned and operated retail stores have more sales per square foot than any other retail company.
When the entire global retail industry was in a massive recession, Apple was not just surviving; it was thriving. When Apple lost its main source of innovation with the death of its founder, Steve Jobs, the company didn't die with him.
Apple retail stores threw out the traditional retailing rulebook for merchandising, customer service, inventory, sales, store design, and more. In doing so, Apple not only achieved unprecedented retailing success for itself; it also disrupted the entire U.S. retail industry and became the model by which other retailers judged themselves.
Does Apple Ever Have Sales?
There is one aspect of Apple's retail model that stands out the most: Apple doesn't offer discounts.
Apple has a no-discount pricing strategy with the products it sells in its own Apple retail stores. This also holds true for Apple products sold in other retail chains like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy.
There are Apple sellers who don't comply with the rule. However, these retail locations or online vendors are not certified Apple resellers.
Consumers are often unaware that when they see a "sale" on Apple iPhones, iPads, iPods, or computers that the seller is probably not certified. In some cases, the inventory consists of used but legitimate Apple products that are being sold at a discount. In other cases, the products are knockoffs.
When Does Apple Have Sales? Exceptions to No-Discount Pricing
Though Apple's no-discount policy is consistently followed by certified retailers and Apple stores, there are ways that careful shoppers can still manage to get iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, and other Apple products at a discount.
- Black Friday deals. According to long-term Apple Store employees, Apple usually offers some type of promotional deals, discounts, and product bundles during Black Friday Sales Week, which begins the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. However, these sales are usually unknown even to Apple employees until just before the store opens on the morning of Black Friday. Apple is one of the few U.S. retail chains that does not publicize its Black Friday shopping deals.
- Bundles. Some retailers will circumvent the no-discount mandate during the Christmas holiday shopping season by offering "bundles." Instead of lowering the price of the Apple product itself, other products (printers, software, accessories, etc.) are discounted or free with the purchase of an Apple product. Free gift cards that can be used for future store purchases are often part of a promotional bundle connected to the purchase of an Apple device.
- New generation releases. When a new generation of iPad, iPhone, or computers are about to be released, authorized Apple products dealers are given permission to discount their existing inventory to make room for the newest releases.
Other than these few exceptions, you won't find certified Apple dealers discounting the prices of Apple iPhones, iPads, or computers just because they want to. Apple controls pricing on a global scale with the severity of the consequences for breaking the no-discount rule.
In the United States alone, iPhone users make up more than 45 percent of smartphone users; in other countries, it is even higher. To lose your official reseller certification is to lose a lot of potential future sales revenue.
Even though the policy runs contrary to the pricing strategies of every major and minor retailer in the U.S., and even though it seems impossible to enforce, certified retailers are invested enough in being part of the Apple retail model that they rarely fail to comply.