Apple retail establishments are the new mall anchor stores

Apple’s retail stores are turning into the new mall anchor store, a role once held by department stores, because they draw lots of foot traffic, which also benefits the smaller stores.

In the U.S., there are roughly about 140 million customers with iPhones, estimated Gene Munster, a partner in Loup Ventures in an interview with TheStreet, and those millions usually need to go to a bricks-and-mortar store for service.

"An Apple Store in a mall is equivalent to staying alive at a mall," he added.

The presence of an Apple Store in a mall also increases the value of a mall and allows mall owners to raise square-footage rates for other tenants. Robin Abrams, a commercial real estate executive in New York City, told TheStreet that hedge funds evaluating malls will factor in whether or not one has an Apple Store. If it does, the hedge fund gives the shopping center a higher valuation.

Because of such benefits to the mall, owners will also do a lot to accommodate an Apple Store, such as shouldering the costs of the store's build-out and giving months of free rent, Abrams added. Apple has almost 500 retail stores in 23 countries and an online store available in 39 countries.