Did Apple cut nearly 10% of its retail store staff?

Cupertino (CA) – The results of Apple’s second quarter in 2009 are in, and even though the company saw a recent dip in Mac shipments, they were actually quite positive.  Unfortunately, slower sales in the company’s retail stores apparently resulted in a 10% reduction in sales staff.

The operating income for the company fell about 7.8% in fiscal Q2 year-over-year, and nearly 10% for the first half of the year, compared to last. The decline has been attributed to lower than average revenue per retail location.

Apple’s 10-Q form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made note that the company had 14,000 full-time retail employees at the end of the last quarter. This number is down from the 15,600 employees the company cited in the 10-Q filed in December 2008. The difference in staff would lead some to believe that the company has dropped 1600 retail employees.

It is quite possible that the company did not lay off any retail employees, and instead shifted these employees from full-time to part time positions, or reduced the number of seasonal employees. Since the company declined to comment, it is possible, but merely speculation at this point that Apple has reduced its retail workforce by more than 10%. But then we also know that Apple tends to never comment on inconvenient news anyway.

Apple’s maintenance of a retail store is a gigantic expense for the company, as it requires retaining a larger staff, purchase and lease of property, and other expenses involved in running a retail operation. With the economy in a slump, and consumer spending slowing, it does pose a problem and a potential economic risk for the company.

According to Apple, its retail operation generated $1.47 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year, up from $1.45 billion in Q1 2008. However, the operating income declined from $334 million to $308 million. For the first six month of Apple’s current fiscal year, operating income is down from $739 million last year to $661 million in 2009. Apple currenty has 251 retail locations and 11 “high-profile” stores.

Even though retail in general is taking a hard hit, the company has yet to close one of its retail stores, in all of the eight years in which they have been in operation. Rather than closing stores it would appear that the company is cutting costs, including personnel.

In unrelated news, Apple said that it has filed an amendment to correct the Form 10-Q it submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, April 23. The company stated that the original 10-Q  “reported the voting percentages for shareholder-submitted proposals because abstentions were counted as “No” votes.” The new filing corrects this error.