At least one Apple Store in the UK is predicting unusually high footfall in the autumn and holidays next year, a time that is expected to include the launch of the iPhone 15 range.

Apple Milton Keynes employees have been advised that they will not be able to take any leave between September 15, 2023 and October 7, 2023, and between December 2, 2023 and early January 2024. Leave requests during this period “ embargo” will not be authorized by store managers. While an increase in retail store footfall is expected in the fall around the launch of new Apple devices, especially new iPhone models, and during the holiday season, the latest instruction appears to be a shift in unprecedented protocol in the region.

Apple typically bans time off right before new device launches and the holiday season, and this is often communicated directly to short-term employees through an Apple internal communications app. The latest change, banning furloughs about a year in advance, was communicated more secretly via a locally posted memo.

Store managers claim that the instruction comes from “above the store”. The change was pitched to employees as one “to make sure we’re better equipped for next year” during “high-speed moments”.

The scope of the instruction is unclear, but the dates were clearly chosen in a discriminatory manner, likely in anticipation of the launch of new Apple devices in the second half of next year and increased attendance during the holiday period.

It’s highly unlikely that there are any firm dates yet for the launch of the iPhone 15 lineup, with the devices themselves likely still to undergo production validation testing before a mass production schedule can be confirmed. Still, it’s worth noting that Apple Retail is already blocking dates that are likely tied to launching new devices late next year, that far in advance.

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