The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is the biggest shopping mall in the United States. It ranks in the top three world-wide. The Mall of America is a five- minute drive from the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport and many a traveler with a few hours of layover will catch the every ten-minute shuttle bus to the Mall. The Mall of America draws people from the 50 states and from over 100 countries. The Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) retail store at the Mall is large and very busy.
I stopped by the Mall late this morning and extra security was present to manage the throngs sitting outside the Apple store. I was able to walk into the store easily as I was not in line for the iPhone--not yet at least--and wanted to speak with the sales staff.The store was buzzing and the staff ready and able to answer any and all iPhone questions. They expect record traffic beginning tonight at 6pm when the iPhone is officially available.
The sales associate I spoke too, John, told me he has never been this excited and was a little nervous. When I asked him how many units the Mall of America had in its initial inventory, John went stone silent. I pressed and he said he was not allowed to say. But he did say they had enough to get through the first two weeks. He went on to say that the staff is already figuring out the first two days sales expectations and will order more units from headquarters by this Monday.
I asked John if the store expected add-on sales of other Apple products during the frenzy period. He resolutely nodded his head. They ordered and received extra Mac's, extra iPod's and extra accessories. All in all a good meeting.
I asked a few people waiting in line about their expectations. Of the seven people I spoke with, surprisingly four said they are buying the limit of 2 phones. I asked if they plan on selling the extra unit and was met with wandering eyes and a lot of "well, you know, aah, I could". The best one was an industrious woman who was in-line with her two teen-age daughters. She was blunt about it: "Hell yes, we are buying six phones between us and by late tonight three will be up on eBay. We gonna get these phones free, you just watch" Okay, I think we got that one...
From the field, this is Georges Yared, CIO of Yared Investment Research.