Apple will soon open a new store in Wuhan, China
. It’s the first Apple Store in China’s Hubei province and 44th in mainland China. The store is located on the second level of Wuhan International Plaza, an enclosed shopping mall.
Many Americans first heard the name “Wuhan” in early 2020, so a negative association between this store and the pandemic is inevitable in social media discourse and news reporting. This is a delicate opening for Apple to communicate outside of China.
Let’s take a look at the timeline and try to preemptively separate fact from fiction:
- International travel to China was difficult throughout much of 2020, limiting the capacity of Apple’s real estate and design teams to plan and build this store.
- According to official documentation from the Hubei province, the Apple Wuhan project was submitted for approval in August 2021 and construction began in September 2021. This means that the store design was already complete, the space in the mall was leased and cleared for Apple, and teams were assigned to work on the project.
- Hiring for Apple Wuhan began in August 2021. This is the moment a store essentially “goes public.” It’s usually one of the last major steps in a project.
- The store rollout number is R575. Rollout numbers follow a loose chronology and can give an indication of how long a project has been cooking internally. For reference, Apple Myeongdong is R738. R571, R572, R573, R574, R576, and R577 — all in China — opened between August 2014 and January 2016.
It’s also worth considering that Hubei, a province with nearly 58 million people, has no Apple Stores. If not now, when?