Consumer demand, product availability, the possibility of deeper price cuts and which categories may drive economically battered consumers into retail stores are four issues on the minds of the industry as we enter the fourth quarter.
TWICE contacted a panel of top CE distributors via email earlier this month and gathered their opinions on these issues for a virtual roundtable.
The most hopeful sign for the holiday season is that most of the distributor executives we contacted said that consumer demand seems to be up slightly.
And while there may be shortages in items such as smaller flat-screen TVs and a few other categories, there should be enough inventory to go around.
HDTVs, regardless of format or screen size, will continue to be popular. The fourth quarter may also see Blu-ray Disc players, bundled with TVs, selling in large volumes. Netbooks, gaming products, anything iPod- or iPhone- related and anything that has to do with accessories for these hardware categories should do well and also provide margins.
Distributors and their retail customers will need margin help because many are concerned that flat-panel pricing may be as deep, if not lower, than ever before.
So here are the edited responses of the top distributor executives (see list at right) on these key issues facing the industry as the calendar counts down to the holiday season. — Steve Smith