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Flat Panel, Gaming Seem Hot Sellers For Q4

TWICE:Which CE categories will do well in the fourth quarter? Why?

Rob Eby, D&H Distributing: Gaming will be a good category. The upside of this space is the long-term usage that consumers get from the merchandise. We’re seeing that reflected in our console sales as well as in the sale of titles and peripherals. Netbooks are also still growing. That niche is still developing improved features, such as extended battery life; slimmer, lighter-weight models; and vibrant color choices. Blu-ray will see success this season also, since price points on this technology have come down enough to better justify a transition to the new format by the mainstream consumer.

Wally Whinna, AVAD: Video will be the strongest category. Since our customers — custom installers — are early adopters, they are replacing first- and second-generation plasma TVs with new LED and 1080p plasmas. Consumers want the latest technology and thin panels. At AVAD, we are working hard with our dealers to attach warranties, power and home theater to these sales

Fred Towns, New Age Electronics: Netbooks are still a very exciting and high-demand category. Small and thin is in. Carriers are making very tempting offers and wireless options, and endless connectivity is a must-have. In addition to netbooks, all the accessories that complement [the category] will benefit as well, such as cables, stylish computer cases and other accessories. Many consumers are still upgrading their televisions. That combined with some aggressive pricing will make TVs a Q4 success, as expected.

For digital photography, bigger is better. Consumers want high-resolution, poster-sized quality files whether they print them or not. That translates into an increase in demand for storage devices and portable hard drives. Data storage options are needed for photos, music, movies and even personal financials. So, encrypted storage devices may become the next best thing.

Doug Robison, DSI Systems: We are hoping LED display [sales] increase during the holidays. This is a product in which the independent retailer can make some margin. We anticipate Blu-ray to do well. Also, sales in small-screen sizes should continue to be robust.

Bill Stewart, PETRA: With all of the gaming platforms cutting their prices going into fourth quarter, gaming will definitely be a big holiday seller. We have stocked up on the hottest gaming accessories for our retailers.

We are also seeing a big surge in netbooks and netbook accessories, portable TVs and karaoke. We know we will see the usual success in categories such as iPhone/iPod accessories, smartphone accessories, headphones — especially the ear buds with the built-in mic for iPhone. These are all perfect stocking stuffer promotions, with some attractive margins for retailers.

LCD TVs are always popular during Q4, and with that comes all of the accessories, such as cables, mounts, power protection and so on. Anything related to digital imaging will be in demand, from the cameras to the memory cards to the cases and digital photo frames. We also always see a rise in sales in GPS receivers, XM/Sirius satellite radio, radar detectors and remote starts.

Mark Feinberg, ADI: LED LCD TVs will continue to do well as they are still fairly new. Blu-ray technology will do well again this year, and commercial A/V will continue to be a strong point in the market.

David Kaplan, DDG: It seems everyone wants to buy a flat-screen television, or if they already own one, they want another one. LED backlight technology is driving the high end of the business while entry-level product from tier-one brands has become extremely affordable. I think the 46-inch and up screen sizes will show extraordinary unit growth.

Mark Gustavson, WYNIT: With no clear “must-have” item this year, CE retail success stands on the same three-legged stool as it did in the previous two seasons (flat screens, gaming and GPS), with additional revenue opportunities in accessories and supplies. The wildcard is Apple and will be driven by the number of consumers embracing the “iLifestyle.”