The Changing Face Of White Goods

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NEW YORK — What a difference a year will make.

The retail shakeout that was precipitated by the sudden economic downturn will have a profound impact on next year's Majap Retail Registry. Gone from the Top 100 will be seven merchants for certain, and whether the consolidation will claim additional casualties will depend on the duration and severity of the contraction, and the length of creditors' leashes.

Among those making their 2001 Registry swan song is Circuit City, which bailed out of the white goods business by October of last year and still managed to rank fourth on the appliance parade.

While Circuit City lives to fight another day on the CE front, fifth-place Montgomery Ward won't. The company closed up shop in December, leaving manufacturers in the lurch and its half-billion dollars worth of market share up for grabs.

Moving up in their stead is Lowe's, the new No. 2 player in town; Best Buy, which enters the Top Three winners' circle; and New York area powerhouse P.C. Richard & Son, which likely will take fourth place on next year's listings.

Also gone for good: 12th-place American Appliances, which had dominated the mid-Atlantic majap specialty store scene for decades, but eventually found itself outgunned and overextended after the big box boys muscled onto its turf. About the same time that American went under, long ailing Heilig-Meyers finally gave up the ghost, along with its $75 million in majap revenue.

Farther down this year's list is one-time Top Ten player Tops Appliance City, which placed 53rd based on its $16 million in liquidation vapors, and former NATM member Roberds, which paid the price of over-expansion by dropping from 18th place to 59th, to nothing next year.

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