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Sears Rolls Out Exclusive CE Product Strategy

Sears is rolling out a collection of exclusive CE products to further reestablish itself as an electronics destination store for the holiday season and beyond.

The items include a Fisher-branded miniature camcorder and digital still camera by Sanyo (see story, p. 12), a combination DVD recorder and VCR from Sansui, and a portable DVD player from Memorex’s Disney Electronics line. The camcorder and combo unit will be unique to Sears at least through the fourth quarter and into the first, while the portable Disney player’s exclusivity is open ended.

The products, which began hitting Sears shelves earlier this month, are the latest in a series of moves designed to reinvigorate the company’s CE business and reposition its departments as family entertainment centers. Within the past year, the retailer has reconfigured the floor, introduced 22 SKUs of flat panel displays, launched Cablevision’s Voom satellite service, and added Sony gift pack shops and select best-selling DVDs, beginning with “Finding Nemo.”

The Sansui DVD recorder, which employs the DVD-RW format, is retailing for $399, while the portable DVD player, which joins a dedicated Disney aisle in Sears stores, carries a $249 price point. The Fisher Pocket CameraCorder, which will be merchandised with other digital cameras on monitor-topped display trees, is the priciest of the products at $899.

Television spots highlighting the offerings began breaking last week.

According to a Sears spokesperson, who outlined the strategy at TWICE’s offices, here, opening price point products from Apex and Sansui had led the retailer’s best-sellers list during past holiday seasons, and Sears is looking to revisit those successes with its sharply priced exclusives.

Another Sears-only intro, featured next door in the appliance department, is the Kenmore Brew ‘n Wave, a combination microwave oven and coffee maker that will retail for $149 and sale for $129. The 1.2-cubic-foot unit is made by LG, and, according to the spokesperson, could portend additional white goods SKUs from the South Korean majap maker.

Looking ahead, Sears is “cautiously optimistic” about the approaching holiday selling season, and expects sales to be in line with the National Retail Federation’s overall projection of mid-single-digit gains for the period, the spokesperson said. He also expects promotional activity to be more rationally planned, compared with last year’s discounting frenzy.