I’m posting this just a couple of days before Thanksgiving and Black Friday, so forgive me if I seem more than a little philosophical.
In a few days you will know how the electronics/appliance sales fared during Black Friday and the holiday weekend — for your store or line and for the industry. So if sales are disappointing, this short missive may be of little comfort.
But the fate of an industry cannot be judged on the sales performance of one day or one weekend even in the best of times. Truth be told, this year, probably more than any other, Black Friday’s sales performance will affect industry and consumer as much in morale as it will on the bottom (or top) lines.
In times like this, one should put things in perspective. In past recessions industry executives often told me, “We shouldn’t talk our way into a recession.” Well this time we didn’t talk our way into one. Many of us borrowed, loaned and invested our way into one, based on bad advice … but that’s an oh-too-familiar story at this point.
In the past few days I recalled a comment in an interview I did with NATM Buying Group executive director/president, Bill Trawick, during April. Trawick also was philosophical when speaking about sagging sales of major appliances. “We have seen 10 to 12 years of tremendous growth [in major appliance sales]. Even last year, which may have been our second worst year during that time period, was pretty good. This is not a disaster industry. It is aggressive with nationals fighting for their share with promotions, which made it tough on margins.”
In other words, the industry has had a good run. Be thankful for that. And it is competitive. We should appreciate the past because it should provide some solace that consumers still aspire to and will buy well-designed and cool products from the electronics/appliance industry.
Not that looking back and being thankful will create store traffic and sales now so you can meet your fourth-quarter numbers.
Are you going have to “move more boxes” to get close to the same sales and profits as last year? Yes.
Will we see more turmoil in the ranks of industry retailers and manufacturers with the loss of more jobs and possible mergers/acquisitions? Unfortunately, yes.
But let’s face it, even when times are good, it’s never easy in the electronics/appliance industry.
Some may look at the current situation and see the glass half-empty. Accuse me of wishful thinking, but I think of it as being half-full. (Or maybe I’m tired of all the “gloom and doom” talk on cable TV and online 24/7.)
Sony Electronics president Stan Glasgow said at the company’s biannual media roundtable that the DTV transition should extend the usual holiday season for HDTVs through January to the Super Bowl and to the February deadline.
Consumer surveys still show that of all the products and services out there for gift-giving consumer electronics is still high on the list and should show growth in this turbulent economy.
So be thankful that consumers still think highly of the industry’s products. Heck, that may result in more sales than we expect this season.
Oh … and Happy Thanksgiving.