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Distributors Look Beyond The Panels

It’s no secret that the flat-panel television category has been stealing much of the limelight during the past few holiday seasons. However, there are number of up-and-coming categories that many distribution executives predict might get their own moments in the sun this year.

AVAD‘s president Bob Gartland contends that “we are not a business driven by the holiday season” and that consumers have already made up their minds about the latest hot categories. “Trends this year are more lighting control, more distributed audio and video, and larger screen sizes overall,” he said.

Rob Eby, purchasing director for D&H Distributing; Warren Chaiken, Almo‘s president and COO; and Bill Stewart, president of Petra all told TWICE that they are expecting an uptick in sales of digital picture frames.

Chaiken also added that he expects growth in the specialty appliance category. “Demand for professional-style and European designed appliances continues to grow exponentially,” he said.

On a separate note, D&H’s Eby said, “GPS technology is a hot growth area, since many devices are now hitting key price points that make them more accessible to a greater breadth of consumers.”

In video, Mike Hench, president of The EDGE Distributors Group, said, “Once again, HD video will be heavily promoted. We also see more manufacturers entering the HD/Blu-ray DVD market and consumers are becoming more cognizant of it as more software is being released.”

Similarly, Electrograph president Sam Taylor told TWICE, “With the greater quantity of movie releases on HD DVD and Blu-ray discs this year, we are forecasting a considerable increase in the quantity of HD DVD and Blu-ray players that Electrograph will move during the 2007 holiday season.”

Joel Blank, purchasing executive VP for BDI-Laguna, is predicting a key role for accessories. “Accessories provide dealers with a unique opportunity to increase customer satisfaction while increasing their bottom line,” he said.

“Obviously iPod and iPhone accessories will be a big category — however, I think we will [see] an increased interest in iPod home solutions,” said Petra’s Stewart.

“Consumers are becoming more interested in incorporating their portable music into their homes,” he said, adding that he is also seeing interest in high-end controllers and home automation.

Finally, DBL Distributing‘s Henry Chiarelli told TWICE, “Although it’s not a new category, Bluetooth products are hot.”