There are 100 (or more) stories in the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers Report, and here are a few of them:
The economy is better; new and more varied product categories have been introduced; the job and housing markets have rebounded; and, according to the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers Report for calendar year 2013, sales for the group are up slightly, 0.3 percent to $131.862 billion.
While smartphones and tablets are still popular, many of the other home-related CE categories, most notably TVs, are down in sales, along with PCs, some game systems and other categories.
The top 20 CE retailers, by and large, remained about the same even though 13 of the 20 had softer sales for calendar year 2013.
The star in the top 20 was, of course, No. 3 Amazon.com, with a whopping 20.8 percent gain in annual sales, casting a shadow over the entire list.
Yet even though it enjoyed a mammoth gain, Amazon is still No. 3 on this list at $15.6 billion, $6 billion and change behind Walmart (which eked out a 0.4 percent sales gain) and $14 billion or so behind Best Buy (which had a 2 percent drop in sales).
With all its success, Amazon is still not profitable. And Wall Street is getting restless, with some investors saying it is involved in too many electronic and non-retail projects and wondering if the site will ever be consistently profitable.
Aside from investors, Amazon looms large for retailers in the CE business, as much for taking market share as it sets pricing on many times, draining profitability for all.
Speaking of smartphones and tablets, Apple Retail Stores continues in the No. 4 spot at $11.85 billion in sales. Interestingly, it only had a 1.3 percent sales increase. One would have expected more, but almost $12 billion in sales is nothing to sneeze at.
No, I didn’t forget Best Buy, which remains No. 1, had double the CE sales of Amazon and almost $8 billion more sales than Walmart, yet sales fell 2 percent year on year.
Best Buy is still on the comeback trail, making headlines recently with a Sony department to feature Ultra HD among other products, and an additional Samsung home-theater area to go along with its mobile products area. One of the retailer’s bright spots was its online sales performance, and it will be interesting to see how that evolves this year.
Speaking of the second half, we should see as we approach it whether or not some key new categories — Ultra HD TV, less expensive and more dynamic home-automation products, and wearables — will give the Top 100, and the industry, a larger sales boost when we take the pulse of CE retailing in next year’s report.
TWICE would like to thank our longtime research partner, The Stevenson Company, and Bob Tancula for his team’s hard work on the project, as well as our own resident retail expert, senior editor Alan Wolf, for his hard work in developing this year’s TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers Report.
Look in upcoming issues for the TWICE Top 25 Car Electronics Retailers (June 2), TWICE Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers (June 16) and the TWICE Top 25 Digital Camera Retailers (July 7) reports.