“Is there an Apple Store near you? Count yourself lucky, because the days of Apple’s (AAPL) aggressive expansion into the branded retail space are over — at least for now,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune.

“After opening more than 250 company-owned stores in eight years — an average of better than 15 per quarter — Apple in the last quarter opened just one,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “The building slowdown is one of several moves that Apple has made in response to what COO Tim Cook this week called a ‘horrendous economy.'”

“Although Apple’s revenues grew more than 8% year over year in its second fiscal quarter, the average take per store took a 17% hit, falling to $5.9 million from $7.1 million in 2008,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “According to its latest SEC 10-Q filing, the company has slashed the ranks of its retail employees — from the equivalent of 15,600 full-time workers at the end of its December quarter to 14,000 in March, a net loss of 1,600 jobs.”

MacDailyNews Note: That was in retail. After Christmas. Meaning holiday staff, as usual, did not continue past the holidays. Also in the same 10-Q filing, conversely, Apple increased R&D headcount in the current year to support expanded R&D activities, but did not provide a hard figure, perhaps in order to protect that information from competitors. We predict that these facts will not be present in many (if any) other media outlets’ news stories about this issue.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The U.S. economy is down. Most Apple retail stores are in the U.S. So, of course, it’s only prudent that Apple takes a breather on retail store expansion for the time being. We’d be more concerned if Apple continued opening stores during such a macro economic downturn.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Brian” for the holiday staffing reminder.]