The annual PRO Group meeting is nothing if not a meeting of some of the top-level A/V manufacturing executives who are here to nail down orders, as well as take the temperature of the retail clients … and vice-versa I may add.
This year’s event was no exception. One new wrinkle was that vendors took more time to candidly volunteer views about the state of the CE industry than usual.
While we’ll have an exclusive special report on their views of the current CE market, here are some of the issues they addressed:
*Retail has had a hardscrabble year, with higher sales in January and February. As lines changed in March and April, sales slowed, but nothing like during the fourth quarter. TV sales are holding their own and growing, with the DTV transition delay having no discernable positive effect, they said.
*Product shortages, due to conservative estimates on the parts of vendors and retailers, are a real possibility in some cases, especially if holiday sales are more merry than last year.
*Who replaces Pioneer’s TV upscale TV business? Manufacturers didn’t just simply say, “ME!” They outlined specifics in their lines and technologies that could make a difference.
*These suppliers denied they will cut back on promotions or R&D investments during this fiscal year, even though recent financial reports were dismal at best. We’ll see.
*Is the Circuit City/Tweeter market share grab over? Have vendors come up with a strategy for turning to another channel to absorb that inventory? They said the industry is still adjusting and they think that regional CE players and independents are benefitting from fewer retailers, just like the nationals. Vendors predicted some retailers, large and small, will see where Circuit and Tweeter exited and may see an opportunity to expand.
Speaking of PRO Group retailers, some are expanding. As reported earlier in the week, Modia is opening a new store in the Dallas area, and Sixth Avenue Electronics is opening another location in New Jersey.
For more on all this, check our upcoming special report on the PRO Group online next week and in print June 1.