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Dealers Discern Return To B&M

NEW YORK — Brick-and-mortar merchants are beginning to see a slight shift in channel preference among multichannel shoppers that is expected to continue through the holiday selling season.

“It’s no groundswell change,” said ProSource president/ CEO Dave Workman, “but there is a slight and continuing balancing in the market that is taking customers back to brick-and-mortar as the imposition of state sales taxes and vendor pricing policies level the playing field a little.”

Tom Hickman, electronics senior VP for the $14 billion Nationwide Marketing Group agreed in part. “I do think store traffic will rise because it’s hard to dampen the hunt-and-seek fervor of the Black Friday customer,” he said, although he does foresee both on- and off-line channels continuing to grow in Q4.

In contrast, distributors see online sales growth continuing to outpace physical retail in the coming quarters. “There are definitely consumers who enjoy shopping a store, and there are some categories that are still only available at brick-and-mortar,” observed Almo president/COO Warren Chaiken. “But more and more people are going to end up buying online and via mobile because it’s so damn easy.”

Fred Towns, president of New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games, concurred. “Twenty-four/ seven convenience continues to be key, which does give somewhat of an advantage to online retailers. With businesses operating leaner, consumers are working longer hours, leaving them less time to shop in stores.”

The best advice from D&H Distributing? “Be creative in promotions,” said senior sales VP Jeff Davis. “Give the customer a reason to come into your store.”