With International CES serving as the backdrop, a panel of 10 leading merchants came together last month amid the macroeconomic meltdown to essentially chart a recession action plan for retailers.
Despite the anticipated industry shakeout — or perhaps because of it — the dealers, distributors and buying group executives that comprised the 2009 TWICE Retail Roundtable found lots to be optimistic about. A retail consolidation will put loads of CE dollars up for grabs, they said, and may force vendors to reacess their channel strategies (such as Pioneer's decision to exit the TV category, see p. 1) and re-embrace the consultative sales floor. Those left standing will also be stronger and more profitable for the experience.
At the same time, a revolution in content delivery systems and the propensity for cash-strapped consumers to entertain more at home will help drive increased sales of TVs and related hardware, they projected.
But retailers will also have to work harder and smarter to cut costs and draw traffic, they agreed, while clearly defining themselves in the marketplace.
Helping them accomplish this are distributors, who can provide entree to popular but low-margin categories with minimal inventory investment, while extending them credit to do so.
The spirited give-and-take is presented here in edited form.