The 600-member NECO Alliance, which said it is now the largest buying group in the Northeast and met here at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino earlier this month for its Fall Expo, reported a double-digit increase in sales this year.
Sales to consumers through its five chapters now exceed $1.2 billion, NECO said. Warehouse space increased 10 percent to more than 1 million square feet divided among five facilities. In addition, the group added 30 members.
NECO has also picked up new vendor lines including LG consumer electronics (LG supplied only majaps to the group in the past). NECO also added Sansui electronics, U-Line under-the-counter upscale appliances, Kindred sinks and TouchStone furniture.
Bucking the trend in majaps, NECO sales are up in the segment. Connecticut chapter leader David Aitoro said, "The housing industry is soft but there's still remodeling and replacement going on." NECO members are also benefiting from attachment sales to flat-panel TVs in the form of home theater speakers, HDMI cables and furniture, which helps to replenish margins, he said.
The group continues to expand into brown goods, but executive director Mel Hunger would not reveal NECO's white-goods/brown-goods split. He said most members now offer custom home theater installation either directly or through partnerships with installers.
NECO is looking to expand its seasonal business through different types of gas grills with a complete low- to high-end mix.
As for the Christmas season, Hunger expects the group to see an increase in overall unit sales but he also expects price compression and possible shortages in LCD TVs.