Despite the loss of the industry's second-largest retail account, white goods manufacturers say they will readily find a place for their orphaned products.
Whirlpool, Circuit City's top appliance supplier, acknowledged in a statement that "we could experience a short-term impact on our shipments as Circuit City works off their remaining inventory." But based on the strength of its brands and broad distribution, the company said it was confident "that we will replace our present Circuit City volume within our distribution network," and will experience no long-term impact on its business.
Kent Baker, VP/strategic marketing at Maytag, agreed that shipments will continue unabated. "The consumer is going to continue to drive demand, not outlets," he said. "This news has happened repeatedly. The players and channels change, but the industry continues to stay strong."
A GE spokesman said that while Circuit has been "a great customer, and we regret their decision, it really was a very, very small part of our total sales volume." He added that the company "wasn't terribly surprised given the changing landscape of the appliance business," and suggested that The Home Depot would be a major beneficiary of the market-share shift. "Lowe's was selling appliances. Home Depot is now selling appliances," he said.
Similarly, Frigidaire said in a statement that "Circuit City's sales volume will gravitate to existing national and local appliance retailers. The major appliance business has been vibrant with record volume over the past few years. Dealers who are committed to the category continue to have a great opportunity to prosper."