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Economic, Tech Trends Should Make For Good Year

Last Monday the baseball season officially opened in New York. That morning it was rainy and cold with a bitter wind. Snow was blowing near the New York Mets’ home, Citi- Field. Yet the local meteorologists predicted clear skies, maybe even some sun, by the first pitch that afternoon. For once they were absolutely correct.

We can only hope recent predictions that we have heard about the electronics/appliance industry for this year, and the future, are close to being that accurate.

The tough winter weather made it difficult for some consumers to dig out of their homes and get in the mood to shop for electronics and appliances. But, even so, there is still optimism that consumer demand will generate strong sales this year and beyond.

The optimism that I heard at the BrandSource meeting seemed to match reports from the Mega Group and Azione Unlimited meetings that took place in recent weeks and what TWICE heard previously from discussions with distributors and the Nationwide Marketing Group earlier in March.

In fact BrandSource’s keynote speaker, retired Whirlpool-exec-turned-public-speakerand- consultant Joe Higgins, predicted strong economic factors for the U.S. this year and beyond. He has a good track record. He was last year’s keynoter for the group, and his upbeat appraisal of 2013 prospects was on the money.

Higgins cited improved housing starts, a trend toward more manufacturing jobs in the U.S., a lower federal budget deficit, and lower unemployment rates as just some of the positive news that electronics/appliance retailers will benefit from now and over the next few years.

When it gets down to industry specifics, BrandSource CEO Bob Lawrence, along with Jim Ristow and Dave Workman, co-presidents of the group’s newly-formed ProSource CE operation, all pointed out industry technology and retail trends that will help independents and installers more than national retailers.

Lawrence pointed to critical categories for growth — Ultra HD or 4K TV being one and the “Connected Home,” or networked CE products being the other, along with home and outdoor furnishings. The group also said that major appliances should still be a key sales driver since it continued to outpace the industry’s white-goods sales.

In CE, Ristow stressed that there is “a tidal wave” of opportunities for retailers and installers with new Ultra HD TVs, home automation and networked systems, where there are more products and systems for a wider audience — who needs the technology to be explained and installed.

Rarely is there a consensus in this business, but this time there seems to be a positive one for independents this year and beyond.

TWICE VIP Award Nominations!

Manufacturers, remember to nominate your best products that have been sold at retail in the U.S. from Nov. 1, 2013, to April 1, 2014, at The deadline is Monday, April 14. Winners will be profiled in our Aug. 11 issue.

This column originally appeared in the April 7 print issue of TWICE.