Electronics retailers say they are seeing strong sales during 4th qtr 1994 largely due to new products, more consumer disposable income and new merchandising strategies. The retailers expect 1994 sales figures to be larger than those of 1993, but margins will be slim. Some areas, especially the West Coast, are still suffering from a poor economy. Retailers’ main complaint regards the limited supply of large-screen TVs due to a glass shortage.

For the second year in a row:

Christmas appears to have been kind to consumer electronics retailers

Electronics retailers canvassed across the country reported generally good fourth-quarter holiday business, most indicating that strong sales will most likely top last year’s figures.

Double holidays, new products, an upbeat customer mood, more consumer disposable income, and revamped merchandising strategies were among some of the reasons cited by retail operators to why their sales figures for 1994 will top last year.

However, industry observers noted that fourth-quarter profit margins again will be slim, particularly for those retailers carrying PCs or software. Both national retailers Best Buy and Circuit City have already indicated their fourth-quarter profit margins will be lower than last year.

And some sections of the country, most notably the West Coast, are still feeling the crunch of tough economic times.

For certain retailers, the biggest complaint came in the form of limited inventory of certain large-screen TVs, the result of an ongoing glass shortage.

In the Northeast, Farmingdale, N.Y.-based P.C. Richard & Son reported Christmas ringing twice with Chanukah’s early arrival providing an extra boost in sales.

“In the metropolitan New York area the Jewish holiday is very important for gift giving. By being separate from Christmas by a matter of several weeks in effect will give us two Christmases–or almost,” said John LaRegina, TV/ video buyer for P.C. Richard.

Vice president of American Appliance

Philadelphia-based American Appliance reportedly has been registering substantially higher figures over last year, which store executives attributed to changes made in its in-store displays. Jim Higgins, vice president of American Appliance, said the chain’s sales of projection television, for example, have experienced a 2.5 times increase partly because of a new technique in displaying the products.

“In the past, the units were arranged on gondolas around the floor. A few months ago they were placed in a two-tier arrangement against a wall. This permitted the display of substantially more models than was possible before,” he said.

Higgins said another move that has produced business for the company was the tripling of camcorder floor samples. Depending on store size, camcorders now run between 18 and 25 models. Together with a panoramic motion display which permits dramatic demonstrations, this has resulted in a big increase in the company’s camcorder business.

Like other retailers American Appliance has felt an inventory squeeze on certain direct view TVs. “We’ve been running into tight supplies,” Higgins noted.

In the Midwest, electronics/ appliance/furniture chain Roberds Inc. reported it will post a substantial sales increase over last year. Greg Coulles, electronics buyer for Roberds, said big screen TVs and DSS have been the seasonal winners.

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