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Dealers Look To Bright Side At CEA D.C. Forum

That old standby — “cautious optimism” — was on display during the Consumer Electronics Association’s Washington Forum with some top retail executives in attendance saying they see some bright spots in the market.

Jeannette Howe, executive director of Nationwide Marketing’s Specialty Electronics unit, said that during the group’s recent Prime Time! Meeting, orders were strong from its members. “We feel the business is bottoming out.” But Howe is concerned as to what share of the Circuit City business independent retailers will get as they battle for it with national chains.

Daniel Pidgeon, chairman of Starpower, said, “We glad we’re us,” because the Dallas-based retailer has seen problems out in the market. He said the chain’s business seems to be “better than the industry” and is seeing “potential growth that we can build on.”

But Pidgeon also cautioned, “I’m not sure we’ve hit bottom yet. We’ll see shortly.”

Steve Caldero, senior VP/COO of Ken Crane’s Home Entertainment, said business has been “erratic at best” through early April with sales “going up and down” on a regular basis.

Caldero, whose chain is based in Hawthorne, Calif., said TV sales are a bright spot. Samsung’s new LED 6000 TV series is “selling well” in the 55-inch and 46-inch sizes. Pioneer’s Elite brand of TVs sell well when you can get them, Caldero said. “We can’t come by a 50-inch Elite,” he noted, “But the 60-inch sets are available and selling well.”