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2013: The Year of the CE Optimist

Smart retailers will make it a better year

January 2013 By Elly Valas
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I try to use my holiday column to look ahead, but it’s always good to peek back to put those thoughts in perspective.

Highlights of the past year included the London Summer Olympics and Rupert Murdoch’ fall from grace.  We saw the passing of Neil Armstrong, Phyllis Diller, Whitney Houston and Cosmopolitan magazine’s Helen Gurley Brown.  The 2012 Presidential election cycle overshadowed anything else that was happening for a good part of the year.

There were a slew of unusual weather events, including earthquakes, floods, storms around the world, drought and record heat in the West, and Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.

The economy was still anemic at best and headed for the fiscal cliff. Unemployment is hovering below 8%.  But at the same time, many businesses are struggling to find qualified people with the skills they need.

Consumer confidence has risen along with the nearly 6% boost in the equities markets from a year ago.  Housing starts have improved dramatically and projected to be over 10 million in 2013.  Interest rates remain at near-record low 4%.
In our industry, the regional players, hhgregg in particular, are struggling a bit. Sears is quickly running out of cash and Best Buy continues its decline.
Although it was another i-year with Apple’s introduction of the iPad Mini, the iPhone 5 and new iPods, Android is quickly catching up.  Apple’s world-wide market share in mobile phones is 15 percent to Android’s 75 percent.  iPad sales have dropped to 50% of tablet sales from 60 percent in 2011 as Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy and Google Nexus 7 sales have taken off.

Windows 8 came into the market with lots of fanfare but mixed reviews.  It seems that many users want their start buttons back.

According to CEA, tales of showrooming killing brick-and-mortar retailers are greatly exaggerated.  In a survey of over 48,000 shoppers, only 6 percent of those shopping in stores actually purchased online.

So what’s ahead?  Well, I don’t have a crystal ball and I’ve been accused of being a bit like Pollyanna in my general outlook, but here are my best guesses.

·       Consumers will continue to shop value.  Holiday promotional periods like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Black Friday will bring buyers into our stores.  Those who get into the fray and promote good prices will drive traffic.

 

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