Ultra HD May Steal Holiday Spotlight

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After a sluggish first quarter due to “freezeonomics,” as ProSource’s Jim Ristow put it during his group’s meeting in March, and scant inventories of popular products as the new year turned, CE sales have slowly but surely rebounded.

While CE sales are slowly getting better as we enter the second half, smartphones and tablets — which have driven growth during the past several years — have been flat so far this year.

Wearables and smart watches, much discussed since International CES, have the potential to drive consumers to sites and stores and create traffic. Will they be profitable? All I can say is, let’s hope so.

All of which leaves us with Ultra HD and based on some retailers I listened to recently, it may be the hot product of the fourth quarter.

Tom Campbell, corporate director of Video & Audio Center, and Robert Zohn, president and founder of Value Electronics, who teamed a couple of times last year at TWICE events to sing the praises of Ultra HD, got together again at CE Week in New York in late June with simple, succinct messages.

“The buck stops at retail,” Zohn said about selling Ultra HD. “We have to do the job for [manufacturers] at retail to display, explain and sell Ultra HD to consumers.”

And when retailers do “display, explain” Ultra HD, they usually sell them in quantity, at least in the experience of Campbell and Video & Audio Center.

During the panel, Campbell said Video & Audio Center has had its biggest first quarter in 33 years thanks to Ultra HD from Sony, LG, Samsung and others.

Dave Workman, co-president and COO of Pro- Source, said that while Ultra HD is still a subset of the overall TV category, it should produce “significant” sales, probably $2 billion this year.

Tom Hickman, electronics senior VP of Nationwide Marketing Group, is even more bullish due to lower prices, saying, “I think that we are in for a very serious resurgence in Q4 for the TV. It is always dominant, but with the price points you will see, that will [see] a retail trigger” that will drive consumers to stores.

In a few short months, the industry will see whether Ultra HD will not only provide good profits but will drive consumer traffic into stores and online.

Hickman said he hopes Ultra HD pricing doesn’t get too aggressive during the holiday season. He does hope the technology and price drives store traffic for his members, because “it’s difficult to sell ancillary categories without customers in your store.”

About Yours Truly …

As many of you have read online, I will be changing gears as of July 31 and leaving the day-by-day management of TWICE as editor in chief to become editor at large, writing columns and blogs for the print edition and TWICE.com.

I’ll have a lot more to say in the Aug. 4 TWICE issue about the industry and its people during the 32 years I have been a fulltime editor and reporter covering CE and its related fields.

In the meantime, my thanks to all who have sent me kind wishes via email, phone or social media.

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