WAYNE, N.J.—The week after Easter was a busy one for JVC of America as it held dealer meetings at its headquarters, here and in Los Angeles, Chicago, Cincinnati and Kansas City, from April 17 to 19, to preview the 2001 line.
Harry Elias, executive VP/chief operating officer, said that about 360 retailers who did not attend the company's first preview in Orlando earlier this year were invited to these meetings. "Most of the retailers invited are typical members of AVB, MARTA and Nationwide [buying groups]," he said.
This is the first time in several years that JVC has done anything on this scale with its retailers. Elias noted that especially for the 60 retailers from the Northeast who visited the Wayne headquarters, "They get to see the facility and meet many of the people they talk to on the phone all year long."
He said that next year JVC would again hold its Orlando meeting in late January or early February, then plan these regional meetings during March.
Speaking of retail, Elias said that in his discussions with dealers in recent weeks, "Whether they are larger stores or medium-sized operations, they report that store traffic is way down from the same time last year."
But he added that while traffic is down, "Most of the sales are for high-ticket items. A good majority of the traffic come in and buy projection TVs, digital camcorders and other upscale goods, not the $99 VCR or other promotional products."
He spoke of one major national chain known for middle-of-the-road, bread and butter sales, that "has had plenty of upper-end sales. Their traffic is down but they are able to sell upscale, profitable products."
Elias said that he and many retailers he has spoken with recently are hopeful that retail sales will rebound during the second half. But if they don't, "I hope we don't see a rash of Chapter 11s. We saw that three or four years ago and I hope that trend won't return."
On an upbeat note Elias said, "Right now we are a healthy industry. There is a proper mix of healthy, business-like retailers out there. Diversified retailers, ones that can sell a variety of categories and sell higher-end products, are doing well."