How Apple stores can help track the US reopening

The retail stores of America’s most valuable company have arguably become something of a barometer for how the pandemic has effects on different parts of the country — and the start and prevent cycle of reopenings in a variety of regions.
Apple (AAPL) features a vast footprint in the United States, with 271 stores across the country in virtually every state. And with an unrivaled cash pile, the company can afford to become more reactive, closing stores sooner and keeping them closed longer, if need be.
Apple shuttered all its US stores in mid March, reopened only a little over 100 of them in late May and then re-closed more than 70 of those starting mid-June, including all the outlets in Florida and Texas.

CNN Business built a map to track Apple Store closures across the US, offering yet another window in to the ongoing health crisis — and the health of the country’s economy.

There is really a precedent for using man-made establishments to help track the impact of natural disasters.

In 2004, the official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was tracking the damage from the hurricane in Florida when he realized that the breakfast chain Waffle House could serve as an indicator of how badly a place was hit. Waffle House restaurants are recognized for being open 24/7 throughout every season, and reopening quickly — with a restricted menu if necessary — after having to close because of a storm.
Thus, the Waffle House Index came to be. And while FEMA uses its closures mainly to track storm damage, the restaurant chain hasn’t been immune to coronavirus either — it recently shut 420 of its nearly 2,000 stores because of the pandemic, but kept the others open in a limited capacity.

Apple, meanwhile, has currently shuttered roughly a third of its US stores. Here’s where they are.