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The Best And Worst Of Times For Dealers

It’s a classic glass-half-full, glass-half-empty scenario for CE retail.

As TWICE’s annual Top 100 CE Retailers Report shows, the largest merchants selling consumer-tech goods had a mediocre year at best in 2014, their third in a row.

While some showed extraordinary growth (like GameStop’s Simply Mac chain, ranked No. 43 and up a whopping 85 percent), most posted middling performances as store closures, deep discounting and a retreat to higher-margin mattresses ate into CE sales.

[The report appears in the May 18th print edition of TWICE, and an expanded PDF version, with additional breakout charts and management contact information, is available for purchase here.]

But all is not gloom and doom. 4K TV in all its display variations remains the Great Bright Hope for CE dealers like the still-struggling hhgregg (No. 17 on the TWICE hit parade), which said 4K could comprise nearly half of all its TV sales come Christmas.

And IoT, with its seemingly endless connected-product and -service possibilities, also holds out the promise of a retail renaissance.

But rather than wait for salvation, some retailers are actively pursuing it by turning their showrooms into traffic-driving entertainment destinations that are taking back warm bodies from the web. TWICE compiled a list of 10 such merchandising innovators that are making shopping fun again.

So half-empty or half-full? Best Buy’s Q1 earnings report on Thursday will be a good indicator, but in the meantime I say fill ’er up.