NEW YORK — 2014 was another tough year for CE, between industry contraction and smartphone mania diverting dollars from A/V. Indeed, total CE retail sales fell about 4 percent last year, although double-digit growth at Amazon.com limited sell-through declines to 0.4 percent for TWICE’s Top 100 tech dealers.
Enter appliances, that beautiful, big-ticket category that still manages to generate volume and profits. Fueled by a housing market comeback, the sector drove a 5-percent spike in sales for the 100 largest whitegoods dealers.
For those that trade in both, majaps provided an assuring chorus a la Bill Withers: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on …”
And indeed they did, pushing the combined CE/Majap Top 100 Retailers tally into positive territory according to the latest stats from TWICE and research partner The Stevenson Company.
Total sales came in at $157.2 billion last year, with CE providing $130.5 billion, or 83 percent of the take, compared to majaps’ $26.7 billion contribution.
Topping the charts was Best Buy, whose No. 1 ranking in CE, buoyed by rising majap volume, cemented its place at the helm. While the company has dramatically slashed costs, improved its website, enhanced back-room efficiencies and revamped its sales floors under chairman, president and CEO Hubert Joly, it was still subject to the slings and arrows of a turbulent CE market, with tech sales slipping 1.3 percent last year.
But like the bond holdings in a financial portfolio that balance equity volatility, the once staid appliance category helped offset Best Buy’s CE slump, limiting its combined tally to a flattish 0.4 percent decline.
Driving the chain’s white-goods gains is an expansion of its Pacific Sales in-store showrooms, featuring full kitchen vignettes and a wide selection of premium appliances. Category growth will receive an added boost this year with the rollout of Samsung Experience sections, showcasing the manufacturer’s latest majap wares.
One of the strongest performances was realized by Amazon.com, which ran counter to the CE winds to post double-digits gains as it consolidated its grip on the category. What’s most interesting here, however, is its nascent entry into white-goods. Majap sales totaled a mere $170 million in 2014, but that’s up 47 percent from the year prior.
Expect exponential growth in Amazon’s appliance sales going forward as consumers and manufacturers become more comfortable with buying and selling large-footprint products through the online channel, as evidenced by the recent success of majap e-tailers like Brooklyn, N.Y.’s AJ Madison (No. 98, up 3 percent).
Ironically, the top gainer on our combined rankings achieved its 85 percent sales growth without the aid of appliances. Simply Mac, which as the name implies specializes in all things Apple, built the business, literally, by growing its store count nearly eightfold, with parent corporation GameStop picking up the tab.
At the far end of the Top 100 ranking is No. 99 Queen City Audio Video Appliances, which has rebounded from bankruptcy to post a combined 4.1 percent gain on strength in both its CE and majap businesses, handily outpacing the Top 100 totals.