LAS VEGAS – Major appliances, which generates half of Nationwide Marketing Group’s sales volume, has been going great this year, especially in the second quarter, with the Prepare For Share program giving the category a big boost as the group tries to take share from a weakened Sears.
At Nationwide’s PrimeTime event at the Venetian, here, Jeff Knock, chief commercial officer, simply put it this way: “The second quarter has been unbelievable for us,” with the Prepare For Share program making a big difference.
He said that in white goods, sales were down in the first quarter, due in part to terrible weather, but in the second quarter, “we are doing better than the industry.” The weather did improve, but with Prepare For Share, “Our vendors, our strategic partners, are all in. We now have exclusive products and special deals … thanks to the support of our vendors.”
Patrick Maloney, senior VP of appliances, said that the Prepare For Share program, an emphasis on millennials, and the condition of Sears — along with the usual product replacement cycle of majaps — has helped Nationwide.
“Retailers have to look who is out in the marketplace and [use] the information [and expertise] we have” to get more customers and a greater percentage of the business, he said.
He noted, “The big boxes have the same cooking products we do, but Sears is going away. Where will Sears’ sales go? It will go to us. We have programs behind us to get that business, and manufacturers that are fully engaged [with Nationwide] with offers on specific models, built-ins and refrigeration.”
Maloney said that Nationwide retailers “can’t just wait for holiday sales” to pick up white-goods share from Sears and others. “There is a $3.3 billion replacement business [in major appliances] out there. And Sears’ appliance business continues is in [double-digit] decline” over the past several years.
Dave Bilas, CEO of Nationwide, said that where Sears is closing stores, “we will get more business for our members. The rolling 12-month reports show that business [in major appliances] is a lot better for us.”
While Knock said that some Nationwide promotions are targeting Sears customers, Bilas said it is hard to quantify how much business Nationwide is getting from Sears now. He did note, “Sears had 40 percent of the business. Now it is 25 percent, so [the effects of the change] will be different in different areas of the country.”
Maloney acknowledged that Home Depot and Lowe’s are growing, but that Nationwide offers “something different. Our customer is a lot like the Sears customer. They buy built-ins and want service and installation. That doesn’t exist [with Home Depot and Lowe’s].”
Bilas sees the major appliance business at this point with the changes at Sears and positive economic factors as “an opportunity of a lifetime.” He echoed Maloney that millennials are looking to shop local and turning to independents, making this, in Bilas’s words, “the best opportunity independents will ever have to gain share” in white goods.
The Nationwide CEO noted that pricing on major appliances this year has been stable, which has also been a big benefit to the market.