Murder, But No Macs, For America’s Most Dangerous Cities

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Courtesy of Forbes:

There’s murder. There’s meth. There’s mayhem. Stockton, California has it all.

If you want to get your iMac fixed, however, you’re going to need to drive half-an-hour down CA-99 to Modesto.

Like eight-out-of ten of the cities on Forbes’ annual list of “America’s Most Dangerous Cities,” Stockton — the Central Valley city reckoned by some to be the epicenter of the national housing bust — doesn’t have an Apple store. Of the ten cities on the list, only Anchorage, Alaska and Las Vegas, Nevada have Apple outlets.

Too bad, because Apple’s computer stores supercharge the economies around them, says Robert Gibbs, an urban economic and planning consultant and author of of “Principles of Urban Retail Planning and Development.” “If you have an Apple store on your Main Street, though, that gives you a kind of ‘good housekeeping seal of approval,’ that’s going to attract others,” Gibbs says (see “Forget Stadiums, Cities Should Fight For Apple Stores”).

In Pictures: America’s Most Dangerous Cities

And with Apple now running more than 240 stores around the United States, if there isn’t an Apple store in your nearest major city, that may say something, too. Just glance at Forbes’ latest list of America’s most dangerous cities — and then try to find the nearest Apple store.

These aren’t cities plagued by minor crimes, like vandalism and truancy: the list relies on figures from the FBI’s 2010 uniform crime report for aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, and robbery (see “America’s Most Dangerous Cities”).

The exceptions make for interesting case studies. Apple’s store in Anchorage, Alaska, is its only outlet in America’s largest state and the northernmost state’s largest city. The store is tucked inside an upscale mall.

Las Vegas is a more complex story: it has three Apple stores. While the desert city has struggled with violence for years — a problem exacerbated by a devastating housing bust — it draws gamblers and convention goers from all over the world and remains a regional shopping hub as well. Like Anchorage, though, all three of its Apple stores are tucked inside of upscale malls, where shoppers are protected by private security.

In other regions, Apple steps around troubled cities to target shoppers. While you cant’ find any Apple stores in Detroit, Michigan’s largest city — and America’s most dangerous — nearby Troy, Novi, and Clinton Township all have Apple stores.

Apple opened 30 new stores in the three month period ending in September. None of them are cheap: Apple will spend $900 million of its capital budget on stores during its 2012 fiscal year, including forty new outlets.

With Apple reporting average revenue per store of $43.3 million, those new stores could generate $1.7 billion in annual sales. Apple sells more than $5000 worth of goods per square foot, more than any other retailer on earth.

As a result, the stores don’t just generate retail jobs, they generate gobs of sales taxes. Just what struggling cities need. The problem: cash-strapped cities can’t choose Apple, Apple chooses them. And Apple chooses to avoid crime.

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