While prophecies of brick-and-mortar’s death are grossly overblown in our opinion, zealots can conceivably find fresh ammunition in the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers Report.
In our breakouts of sales by channel of distribution, the consumer direct category — comprised of online-only retailers and direct-selling vendors — constitutes the largest chunk of business.
Taken together, the channel, which includes the likes of PC makers Dell, HP and Lenovo; tele-retailers QVC and HSN; and e-tailers like Newegg and Crutchfield, comprised more than 28 percent of all sales on the Top 100 charts. Of course, the lion’s share of their $40 billion haul went to Amazon’s coffers, which claimed some $30.3 billion in CE business last year.
The next-largest distribution channel for consumer tech, with 24 percent of Top 100 sales, is essentially Best Buy. Along with Fry’s, which added $1 billion to Big Blue’s $33 billion contribution, and Starpower’s $36 million in CE sales, the trio represent the sole multi-regional chains that are focused on CE and appliances.
Coming in at No. 3 are the mass merchants, led by Walmart and Target, but also comprised of Sears, Kmart, ShopKo, Fred Meyer and the dollar stores. Together they controlled 19.2 percent of all Top 100 volume, but lost a percentage point of market share amid Sears Holdings’ collapse.
Next up are the consumer tech purists — retailers like Apple, Bose, Video & Audio Center and Listen Up that specialize in CE. This group, led by Apple, garnered nearly 12 percent of all Top 100 business last year. Riding Apple’s 11.5 percent sales increase, the classification managed to actually grow its market share by a full percentage point, unlike the discounters who lost a point, and the balance of distribution channels whose share remained static.
See also: Best Buy Keeps The CE Crown, But Barely
Fifth place went to the warehouse clubs, i.e., Costco, Sam’s, BJ’s and Bi-Mart. The member’s-only merchants amassed $8.5 billion in CE sell-through last year, which amounted to a 6 percent bite of Top 100 business.
Trailing in sixth place is the computer store sector. As gaming consoles are essentially specialized desktop computers, we include in this classification GameStop, which joins the multiregional Micro Center; Microsoft and its 89 stores; and authorized Apple reseller Simply Mac. Together the trio generated $7 billion in sales last year, giving it a 5 percent piece of Top 100 revenue.
The remaining 5.4 percent of Top 100 sales was divvied up among specialty imaging and car electronics stores (1.9 percent); the struggling office supply duo of Office Depot and Staples (1.4 percent); multiregional CE, appliance and furniture chains like Nebraska Furniture Mart, P.C. Richard & Son and Conn’s (1.3 percent); and single-market CE and appliance stores including Abt, Huppin’s, World Wide Stereo and Bjorn’s (0.4 percent). Nonetheless, their diminutive market shares belie the importance, to consumers and vendors, of their assisted sales floors, where new technologies and premium products are introduced, explained and sold.