NEW YORK - Retail sales of consumer electronics products rose 1.8 percent last year for the industry's 100 largest dealers. Their total haul: $121.3 billion, up from $119.1 billion in 2008.
Not a bad take for the worst year (hopefully) of the worst recession in decades.
But the numbers, which came by way of the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers report, our annual review of the state of electronics retailing, reveal a tale of two cities in 2009, as some businesses saw their fortunes soar and others rode out the clock to oblivion. Most Top 100 dealers took a licking with single- and double-digit declines last year, but lived to see another day.
Last year's slim sales total also trails the 3 percent net increase eked out in 2008.
The rankings, compiled by TWICE research partner The Stevenson Company of Louisville, Ky., reconfirmed the concentration of CE buying power among a handful of chains. The 10 largest dealers accounted for 74 percent of Top 100 volume last year, while those ranked 26th through 100th together represented less than 10 percent of sales.
Not surprisingly, Best Buy, with a healthy 7 percent sales gain, retained its No. 1 berth on the Top 100 charts, while flat sales kept No. 2 Walmart at arm's length last year. A 6 percent sales decline left Apple a distant third.
At the other end of the spectrum, former and current NATM buying group members Queen City (down 8 percent) and Cowboy Maloney's (up 5 percent) returned to the rankings after several years' absence, coming in at Nos. 99 and 100, respectively.
New to the rankings this year are Geeks.com, a 13-year-old IT e-tailer that came in at No. 80, and InMotion Entertainment, which operates 55 CE shops in airports around the country. It makes its Top 100 debut at No. 89.
Dealers making their final appearance on the listing include Bernie's and MyerEmco.
Paul's TV earns kudos for greatest growth. The Southern California A/V specialist, ranked 70th with a bullet, saw its CE sales skyrocket 75 percent last year as it rolled out in-store shops to furniture chains. Its gains were nearly twice that of the next biggest mover, Amazon.com (No. 8), which increased CE revenue by 40 percent.
Conversely, companies taking it on the chin during the last year of the first decade of the new millennium included Magnolia Audio Video (No. 77), down 46 percent, and Ritz Camera (No. 37), off by 42 percent.
Viewed by channel of distribution, multiregional CE and majap chains such as Best Buy, Fry's and hhgregg accounted for the largest share of Top 100 dollars at 28.6 percent, or $32.6 billion in sales.
Mass merchants such as Sears, Walmart and Target comprised the second-largest chunk of Top 100 revenue, with 23.5 percent, or $28.5 billion in sales.
Market share for most distribution channels remained fairly static during 2009, despite the loss of Circuit City. Indeed, Circuit's CE-only grouping only shed 60 basis points of Top 100 share year over year, while the mass-merchant category slipped 30 basis points on volume declines at Sears and Kmart. Only the national CE/majap chains showed significant movement, with market share up nearly 1 full percentage point from 2008.
Growth also appeared concentrated among the largest-volume retailers, as the Top 10 increased their share by 70 basis points from the prior year. Sales were flat for those ranked 11 to 25, but Nos. 26 through 50 lost 50 basis points of Top 100 share, to 6.7 percent, and those ranked 51st through 100th lost 20 basis points, to 2.9 percent.
As a reminder, the dollar volumes reflected in the TWICE rankings account for sales of consumer electronics hardware and computer and gaming software only (see p. 22 for our methodology), and exclude all revenue derived from labor, services, subscriptions, extended-warranty sales or vendor marketing support.