Major appliance sales at BrandSource, and custom installation and CE volume at ProSource, have generated good growth this year, the buying groups’ senior management told TWICE.
Attending the recent BrandSource Convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Dave Workman, president/CEO of independent specialty division ProSource, said custom installation revenue is up 15 percent this year, and has been consistently solid all year long.
As for retail CE, following setbacks in the first half, “July saw a turnaround and sales are up in August,” he shared.
Asked about the back-to-school season, and its role as a fourth-quarter barometer, Workman said: “I usually look at September [vs. August sales], and [an increase] usually means you will have a good holiday season. Last year’s Black Friday hurt,” he noted, especially in TV, but so far he’s upbeat on the year.
On the issue of 4K TV’s impact on profitability: “Last year [the industry] monetized technology to keep [retail prices] and units in balance” up until Black Friday, he observed. This year, with prices lower, there has been “no growth in revenue,” the industry veteran said.
Part of the problem was shortages earlier in the year on 75-inch and larger 4K TVs, but “Hopefully we will make up [lost sales] in the second half,” he said. Workman warned though that it will be tough if “Black Friday or Black November is like last year’s” in terms of deeper-than-expected price cuts.
Assessing CE retail in general, Workman said “brick-and-mortar traffic is down while e-commerce sales are trending up,” underscoring the point made by BrandSource that independents must improve their digital marketing efforts.
As for HDR and 4K Blu-ray, Workman commented, “If [consumers] are shown the technologies properly, if there is a good retail demo, they will sell.”
He also had some positive things to say about home and portable audio, noting, “Wireless multiroom is doing very well, rebounding nicely from forecasts. And the 18- to 34-year-old [demographic] is buying receivers and speakers” in addition to, expectedly, Bluetooth audio and headphones.
On the appliance side, BrandSource’s John White, who doubles as majap VP as well as chief marketing officer, said white-goods sales for the group are up “in the high single digits” in both kitchen and laundry.
From a supply perspective, the only issue he foresees is possible tightness in “some colors in premium appliances” during the fourth quarter.