By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Some retailers claim this year’s transition to new products has been unusually difficult, especially in in-dash mobile video.
While many retailers claim they are weathering the product transition with only the usual minor hitches, others are openly angry about product delays and claim they are losing sales.
“It’s been a challenging year for transition,” said Mike Cofield, president of 11-store Custom Sounds, Austin, Texas. “Product arrival has been slower than expected.”
Steve Laplante, general manager for 10-store chain Jodi’s Sound Centers in Hartford, Conn., said, “It’s the worst transition I’ve been through in all my years of business, and that’s 30 years … [Suppliers] didn’t have the line availability in January, so some product is coming out late in February, but most of us won’t get it until March. I don’t even know how much business I’ve lost.”
Several retailers said the shortages were most severe in in-dash DVD/monitors. Tom Olla, buyer for The Specialists, Tucson, Ariz., said, “I haven’t seen anything in in-dash DVD/monitors from anybody — just the double DINs from Eclipse.”
Retailers said they were particularly anxious to receive products such as the Pioneer AVIC-N2 and the Alpine IVA-D310, which are both due to ship in the March/April time frame.
Laplante continued, “People are looking for the in-dash flip outs and as of this morning, I don’t have a single in-dash, 7-inch monitor. I don’t care if its $799 or $1,299. Guys are begging me for them. “
Kenwood agreed that “a fairly robust” first two months of the year has caught many suppliers off guard. Car Electronics’ VP Keith Lehmann admitted that Kenwood has had some “challenges” in delivering video. Alpine also said it was in backorder on some products (see “Car Audio Outlook,” p. 1).
Audio Express’ purchasing manager Paul Gosswiller, Scottsdale, Ariz., said it’s been an unusual transition because suppliers this year are shipping mid- to high-end product first, leaving retailers short on low-end product. Usually, it’s the other way around, he said.
Both Crutchfield and Car Toys, Seattle, said the product delays this year are typical of past years.
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