Texas Shoe Stores Question Whether Apple’s Expansion Will Boost Local Retail Sales

Tech giant Apple is about to leave an even bigger footprint in Austin, Texas. Today, the company announced its plans to build an additional campus in North Austin that can accommodate up to 15,000 workers. Currently, Apple has a campus with a workforce of about 6,000, located less than a mile from the new location.

What can the addition of thousands of workers mean to the retail community in the state’s capital? While some area shoe stores expect to see an uptick in shoppers, others were not as positive, citing increased consumer interest in online shopping over brick-and-mortar, which could offset any gains in foot traffic.

At The Walking Co., known for its selection of comfort footwear, its store manager expected to see a positive impact on business. “It will bring [more] people to Austin, which is booming  fast right now,” she said. “It should make a huge difference in [overall] retail sales.”

Like The Walking Co., independent retailer Karavel Shoes anticipates a surge in sales. According to general manager Michael Wittenstein, the store already has a relationship with the company, which refers its workers to the store for their slip-resistant footwear.

According to Wittenstein, in addition to the thousands of Apple workers, some might have extended families moving to the area that would also be interested in a comfortable pair of shoes. “The more people in the area, the more people to shop,” he noted.

At Aldo, Haley Dickson, full-time sales lead, was not as optimistic. Although the city has seen an influx of residents over the past year, it has not resulted in increased store traffic, as consumers continue to shop online, she said. Nevertheless, Dickson did expect more traffic from shoppers who wanted to return in person goods bought on Aldoshoes.com.

For some stores, it all comes down to location. Chuck Duvall, assistant manager at Rogue Running by Jack Rabbit, said since the store is located in downtown Austin, about 20 miles from the new Apple campus, it was not likely workers would be frequenting the location.

“We’re far [away] in downtown,” he said, noting Apple already has nearly 7,000 employees in the city. However, he said the additional campus in the northern suburb of Austin could possibly generate more sales for shoe retailers in that area of the city.

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