The economy seems to be turning around. Have your customers seen it begin to translate into consumer demand yet?
Michael Flink, ADI Americas:
Yes, we are beginning to see improvements in consumer demand but there have been some inconsistencies. There is definitely strength in residential security and home automation, along with commercial CCTV and commercial A/V. In general, the commercial market has been stronger than the residential market.
Rob Eby, D&H Distributing:
Consumer demand normally lags the beginning of a turnaround. We have seen the beginnings of an uptick, but we feel that a bigger market upswing will come later this year. The presidential election will likely influence that timing.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics/Jack of All Games:
Our customers have seen an increase in demand with certain product categories. Tablets continue to be hot. Ultrabooks are getting huge hype with their unique set of functionality, such as a thin footprint, instant on and SSD technology, which is putting excitement back in the PC category. Later in the year Win8 will also provide an uptick in demand.
The gaming category is showing promise of more consumer demand, with new title releases and new handheld devices like the Sony Vita. Other areas for new growth will be with Cloud services bundled with CE products like smart TVs and PCs.
Warren Chaiken, Almo:
The atmosphere at retail is definitely more optimistic than a year ago. Our dealers that are promoting the right bundle of brands are seeing more footsteps in the door. This overall increase in traffic is translating into a slight increase in sales which should continue to grow commensurate with increased stability in economic conditions.
Stephen Bodnarchuk, M. Rothman & Co.:
Most retailers we have interacted with this year have not seen any sustainable upturn in sales as of yet. While some forward looking economic indicators have been encouraging and seem to point to a favorable economic outlook, I don’t believe traditional CE retailers are experiencing it just yet. Consumers are still remaining price conscious and concerned with discretionary spending as commodity items continue to rise, such as gasoline approaching a projected cost of $5 a gallon.
Rob Kalman, SED International:
In some areas, yes. Specifically, we saw a fairly strong holiday season compared to expectations, and recent buying group and SED shows have had decent turnouts and enthusiasm among the dealers about new products and opportunities to expand their business.
Jerry Satoren, DSI Systems:
I believe they have. I just returned from Nationwide’s PrimeTime show where most member dealers told me that January and February sales comps are positive to 2011. And, in fact, the result has been that DSI has been rewarded with a positive year-over-year start to 2012 in spite of TV shortages and choppy model transitions. With the Dow Jones index reaching a four-year high and the continued positive news relating to housing and employment, it appears that the consumer is back in the game and I feel spending will remain robust throughout the year.
Bill Stewart, Petra Industries:
We have seen growth in several categories this year, and we are very hopeful that this continues as our economy continues to recover. Accessories for Apple-related products, cellular and tablets have been red-hot lately, and we remain focused on providing the largest and best assortment of accessories that a retailer can attach to any hardware purchase. Add-on accessory sales are what will continue to drive business and profits for our dealers.