The New York Times profiles Apple’s retail business

The New York Times published a lengthy report today regarding Apple’s retail operations. The article covers a few aspects of the business, but most of it focuses on the employees.

Following the tone of its previous piece on Apple’s supply chain, The Times paints a bleak picture of Apple’s retail employees, describing them as overworked and underpaid…

The entire thing can really be summed up by the first paragraph:

“Last year, during his best three-month stretch, Jordan Golson sold about $750,000 worth of computers and gadgets at the Apple Store in Salem, N.H. It was a performance that might have called for a bottle of Champagne — if that were a luxury Mr. Golson could have afforded.”

Dividing Apple’s overall retail revenue by the number of its employees, the author calculates that, on average, each of them — including non-sales staff — made the company $473,000 last year. Wow. Compare that to the average employee’s salary of $25,000 a year, and we admit, it looks sketchy.

But it’s not like Apple is underpaying its employees. The article redeems itself from being a total witch hunt by pointing out that the company actually offers above average pay compared to most other retailers, and surprisingly good benefits. Each employee is offered health care, 401(k) contributions and substantial discounts on Apple products.

Aside from the pay, The Times outlines a number of other complaints from current and former Apple Store workers, including limited upward mobility, and constant stress from the ever-increasing foot traffic. It also claims that according to internal surveys, employee satisfaction at several locations is “surprisingly low,” especially among technicians.

Of course, Apple refuted the claim, and issued the following statement:

“Thousands of incredibly talented professionals work behind the Genius Bar and deliver the best customer service in the world. The annual retention rate for Geniuses is almost 90%, which is unheard-of in the retail industry, and shows how passionate they are about their customers and their careers at Apple.”

The entire article is worth a read — if only for its insight into the lives of Apple Store employees. It really could have done without the cynicism though. Newsflash: not everyone in the world — especially in retail — is always happy with their job.