NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I spent Saturday walking around Manhattan.
I covered considerable Midtown ground. Typical second-to-last weekend before Christmas -- tons of people, lots of drunk Santas, gridlock on streets and sidewalks, but not many long lines to buy stuff.
I spied suburbanites unsure how to navigate urban streets, an abundance of tourists, plenty of window shopping, but not that many shopping bags on the tote.
had its usual block-long line. I didn't go in so I'm not sure if people were browsing or buying.
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-- and they dot practically every other block -- had a moderate-to-massive line.
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Store -- oh my, the Apple Store -- I have never seen anything like it.
I am no stranger to Apple Store chaos. I live a few blocks from the Santa Monica store that did $1 million per day in 2011 (and likely still does). I often visit the wildly popular Downtown San Francisco location. And I go to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue every time I'm in Manhattan.
Saturday was different than what I am used to seeing at an Apple Store.
Take this with a grain of salt -- it's anecdotal; however, it's no less reliable than Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster sending staff to a mall to quantify traffic. It's all painfully unscientific. It makes more sense than Citi downgrading Apple and lowering the stock's price target to $575 on "demand" concerns after iPhone 5 blows out opening weekend numbers in the U.S. earlier this year and in China this past weekend.
On Saturday, the Fifth Avenue Apple Store had a line out the door. The circular staircase leading in and out of the building rarely had a step to spare. Constant flow of people. Not enough Apple Store employees to handle demand. Let me stress --
I have never seen anything like it
I bought an iPad mini for my daughter (don't tell her, it's a surprise). Turns out it was a good thing my debit card got declined. Don't worry, I don't need a loan. I had the cash to cover the purchase. During a 16-minute phone call with my bank (on hold and live with two operators), we discovered that bank security features would not allow my debit card to run as a credit card. They suggested I ask Apple to do a "pin-based transaction." They did. And it was approved.