Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why consumer electronics retailers are the next record store

Crain's Chicago Business reports:
In an online age, how many consumers still want to buy big-screen TVs and smartphones in stores?

Retailers specializing in consumer electronics have discovered that it's fewer than ever. Leading names in the category all reported declining holiday sales amid a widening expectation that many chains will be forced to close stores to maintain profitability. Indeed, consumer electronics merchants may be the canaries in the coal mine as a broad spectrum of retailers face the prospect of shrinking their brick-and-mortar footprints as they fend off Seattle-based Inc. and other online rivals.

Sears Holdings Corp.'s same-store sales plummeted 9 percent in the nine weeks ended Jan. 6; it singles out consumer electronics as one of its poorest year-end performers. The Hoffman Estates-based retailer, which in its heyday ranked among the top five electronics retailers, just announced the closing of its flagship store in the Loop and a Kmart near west suburban Aurora, after shuttering 300 locations since 2010. Its share price is down 22 percent this year.

Best Buy Co., the nation's No. 1 consumer electronics retailer with a 17 percent share of a $203 billion market last year, has closed 30 of its more than 1,000 stores since 2012, including big boxes in Deerfield, Addison, Mundelein and West Dundee. The Richfield, Minn.-based chain says holiday consumer electronics sales fell by 6 percent; its stock sank nearly 30 percent on the news. Indianapolis-based HHGregg Inc., which has 17 stores in metro Chicago, did even worse, revealing an alarming 20 percent falloff in electronics sales at Christmas. Its stock tanked, too.
Can you say more vacant square footage coming to a neighborhood near you????