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Realistic Optimism For Retailers

Distributors and the independent retailers at last week’s Nationwide meeting, along with the group’s executives, have been mostly optimistic in their discussions with TWICE about retail sales this year.

Is it time to crack open a few bottles of champagne and sing the old 1930s song, “Happy Days Are Here Again”? Well, not quite.

As we have reported online, RadioShack and Staples have announced major store closings, along with Sony, and American TV has closed altogether. In fact, online sales could be blamed for some of the closings mentioned — except for Staples, which now generates more than half its volume online.

This isn’t your parent’s electronics/ appliance industry. It isn’t even the mid-2000s. Yet the distributors we spoke with for our First Half Roundtable and Nationwide members see realistic opportunities for independents — even some larger chains — to adapt to the new categories available for sale in a new competitive landscape.

For instance, distributors think Ultra HD will help the TV market this year, as will the new high-res audio products that are now available. Pricing from top brands should be stable due to ongoing UPP efforts. Home networking seems to be ready for the mass market — and distributors are preaching to dealers to emphasize their strengths in competing with online retailers. Those qualities are service and immediate availability, among others.

Nationwide attendees see pent-up demand, especially for major appliances, with many consumers staying home during the tougher-than-normal winter. The group and its members also expect plenty of growth in furniture — both indoor and outdoor — now and for the balance of the year.

Nationwide also is offering to its retail members plenty of programs and ways to enhance the instore sales experience and provide more information to salespeople to close sales.

While some of the categories have changed or are different, and the competition has evolved, the opportunities are there, according to the industry experts we have been talking with, and it is the job of independents to innovatively take advantage of these situations.

TWICE VIPs Starts Today

From the “How Fast Time Flies Dept.” comes the word that nominations are being accepted today for TWICE’s second annual VIP Awards program at Manufacturers can go to the site and nominate their products from now until Monday, April 14.

Voted on only by retailers and distributors, the TWICE VIPs are based on product features, product design and value to consumers. They must be products that have been sold at retail in the U.S., or are scheduled to be sold at retail, from Nov. 1, 2013, to April 1, 2014.

Once all the nominees have been submitted, online voting will begin, scheduled to start Monday, May 5, and run through Friday, June 27. The TWICE VIP Award winners will all be featured in the Aug. 11 print and digital editions of TWICE.