Don't expect to buy an Apple Watch in stores before June

People who hoped to leave an Apple store with a watch next Friday are out of luck, said retail head Angela Ahrendts

Chinese customers look at the Apple Watch in Shenzhen

Chinese customers look at the Apple Watch in Shenzhen.

Credit: MIchael Kan/IDG News Service

If you're looking to buy an Apple Watch, don't expect to find one in an Apple store in the coming weeks. The device won't be available for in-store purchases through May, Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts said in a memo.

Ahrendts, in the memo, looked to answer questions from retail employees who wondered if Apple was sticking with its plan to start selling the smartwatch in stores next Friday. The memo was seen by The Telegraph newspaper.

Last week, Apple said it would limit watch sales to online orders only for the device's initial launch period, a time frame that wasn't defined.

Ahrendts' memo cleared up any confusion: Apple will stick with the online ordering process for now. Customers will eventually be able to walk out of a store with an Apple Watch, Ahrendts said. She'll provide information on in-store availability when that date is closer.

Ordering the watch online will allow Apple to deliver the device faster, the memo said. Wearables are a new category for Apple and selling the company's "most personal product yet" requires a different sales approach, Ahrendts said. This led to the decision to allow customers to try on the watch before it started shipping, she said.

For customers who miss lining up outside Apple stores when a new device goes on sale, those days aren't gone, Ahrendts said. The process used by Apple to sell its first wearable isn't the model for all future product launches.

"We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days - and there will be many more to come," she said.

People flocked online last Friday to pre-order the Apple Watch, creating a shipment backlog that stretches into May and even June for some customers. Some lucky people, however, will start receiving their watches next Friday, the day device pre-orders were set to arrive.

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