Wal-Mart’s new Apple section seen as warmup to Mac sales
Apple Boutique in Best Buy
Wal-Mart’s move to overhaul the electronics departments in many of its retail stores with Apple-designated shopping areas is being seen as a sign that the mega-retailer is making a pitch to eventually carry Apple’s line of Mac personal computers.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter began revamping the electronics departments in approximately 3,500 of its stores this week — including 2,600 Supercenter locations — in a bid to capitalize on a large slice of the big-screen TV market vacated by Circuit City, which shut down its operations after filing for bankruptcy in November.
As part of the renovations, which should provide for a more spacious and interactive shopping experience, Wal-Mart will also be rolling out specialized in-store boutiques for popular brands such and Nintendo and Apple, similar to the Apple store-within-a-store layouts found in Best Buy retail stores.
Ben Reitzes, an analyst with Barclays Capital, sees the move as a precursor to Wal-Mart extending its reach beyond iPods, iPhones, and accessories to Apple’s Mac line of computers.
“We believe Wal-Mart is actively pitching Apple to carry more products,” he said. “With Wal-Mart improving its retail displays, we believe that the mega-retailer could eventually earn the right to sell select Mac products without diluting Apple’s brand…”
That said, the analyst doesn’t see the existing Mac line as a particularly good fit for the discount retailer outside of the $599 Mac mini and $999 MacBook offerings, but said he believes the company is working on more sub-$1000 products that may eventually appeal to Wal-Mart’s customer base.
This caused more discussion – online and over a cuppa – among my investing guru friends than anything else happening this morning. No – I won’t tell you what we decided. The last thing I want is for this “diarist” to become an analyst.