Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Merchants See Uphill Battle For Holiday Sales


What is your outlook for the
back-to-school and holiday selling seasons?
Will the consumer come back in a meaningful
way? How are you planning for the
fourth quarter?

Dave Workman, PRO Group:

though retailers tend to be an optimistic
lot, the prudent approach is to think
about the balance of the year with a
conservative view. There will be pockets
of “hot products,” but these seem to
be displacing purchases in other categories
rather than being additive as
they have been in the past.

Michael Vitelli, Best Buy:

The big
drive times are in front of us. Watch
for some great bundles from us for

We are currently deep into our holiday
plans and, naturally, we won’t tip
our hand. I can tell you, however,
that we are really excited
about smartphones, e-readers,
tablets, innovations in
TV, new gaming concepts
such as Kinect and Move,
and our used-gaming initiative.

Fred Towns, New Age Electronics:

Consumers are spending
more time at home and are very
enthusiastic about engaging in new
technologies to create an in-home entertainment
experience. Today’s CE
products have also become very sleek
and stylish. Headphones, for example,
are available in-ear, over-ear and more
… plus they are packed with the greatest
features and capabilities, which is
really appealing to trendy consumers.

We rely on a proven rolling forecastbased
model that helps our retailers
have the right product offering to deliver
unique solutions for their customers
through the whole year.

Dan Schwab, D&H Distributing:

are very enthusiastic about the back-toschool
and holiday seasons. We believe
the consumer has come back more so
than in 2009, but it is still a challenging
market, with ebbs and flows. Our backto-
school shipments have been above expectations
in categories such as mobility,
which should continue through the holidays,
and we had an extraordinary response
to our new virtual back-to-school
[interactive online seminars] event.

At retail, we see ongoing momentum
if not necessarily explosive growth, as
many companies reach the anniversary
of the softness of last year’s market,
and the pent-up demand of the consumer
starts to manifest itself.

Ross Rubin, The NPD Group:

As usual,
LCD TV and notebooks should
lead the charge. There are a lot of attributes
on the TV side that retailers can
promote, including faster refresh rates
and LED backlighting.

This will be a holiday that will see
new categories step up to try and off set
the slowness that we’ve seen in portable
electronics categories such as traditional
MP3 players and digital cameras. The
iPad has a great opportunity, as could
a revamped, FaceTime-enabled iPod
touch. E-reader pricing is becoming very
attractive, but the available content continues
to limit the potential.

Jim Ristow, Home Entertainment

We believe we will come out of
the dog days of summer with abundant
promotions. Consumers are
still looking for value and a
reason to part with their
precious cash. Both the
vendor and our members
realize this. “Promotions”
will be the word.

We believe that there
will be plenty of product to
go along with these promotions,
and the consumer, with pent up
demand coupled with enticing offers,
will buy. We are planning right now to
ensure that we have the right promotional
opportunities for our members
to compete for that customer.

David Pidgeon, Starpower:

The remainder
of the year will continue to be
challenging, similar to the first half of the
year. There is some optimism that regardless
of the results of the November midterm
elections, consumers will have renewed
confidence to return to the stores.

I don’t see how the consumer returns
in a meaningful way until there is sustained
growth and improvement in the
unemployment numbers. Our business
is also impacted by home sales
that need to recover. In our historically
large category of $15,000 to $35,000
purchases, people are afraid to spend.

On the bright side, customers insulated
from economic conditions are finding
Starpower like never before as smaller
dealers and integrators struggle to stay
in business. Our sub-$5,000 orders also
continue to grow at an amazing rate as
our clients downsize their purchases.

Notwithstanding all of the negative
news, we are going forward in a cautiously
optimistic vein. We are not settling for status quo and are appropriating advertising
budgets to align with the new complexion
of our business. We will not fall
down the slippery slope of price, but will
take advantage of the departure of and
weakness in our competition for larger

Jeannette Howe, Specialty Electronics

We are looking to the
holiday selling season with conservative
optimism. In aggregate we will sell
more goods, but the trend over the last
couple of years has been to sell more
goods and make less money.

I think we will again see a lot of bundling
to create margin opportunities,
and you will see the independent channel
bundling products as well. I would
also expect the mass merchants to start
the holiday season earlier than ever. In
a few years, Black Friday may be the
Friday before Labor Day.

The iPad brings a lot of potential to the
market. It captured the hearts and minds
of early adopter CE consumers in the
early summer, and we lost business to the
iPad phenomenon. But now we have the
opportunity to wrap control systems and
other functionality around the iPad.

Warehouse Direct, our inventory fulfillment solution for buying group members,
will be geared up for the holidays so
we have the right inventory at the right
price. Orders are already placed with
our primary manufacturers. Warehouse
Direct’s online ordering system
allows our members to increase turns,
buy at competitive prices, and maximize
their return on investment.

Karen Austin, Sears Holdings:

are cautiously optimistic. We believe
that consumer behavior has continued
its shift toward value and we will continue
focusing on delivering superior
service to our customers.