Amazon Top Consumer Electronics Retailer in Latest Dealerscope Ranking
For the first time in the history of the Dealerscope Top 101 Consumer Electronics Retailers list, Amazon has claimed the number one overall spot. The ecommerce giant supplanted Best Buy, which has been at the top since Dealerscope began tracking annual CE retail sales for the Top 101 listing a handful of years ago. Visit the Dealerscope Resource Library to download the free Top 101 listing.
Best Buy had been able to maintain a slight edge over Amazon in annual CE retail sales for the last several years, but despite seeing consumer electronics retail sales climb more than 8.5 percent year-over-year, the brick and mortar giant wasn’t able to keep a hold of the top spot. Amazon, for it’s part, grew it’s CE retail business by more than 18.5 percent year-over-year—more than $5.3 billion—to claim the top spot for the first time ever.
It should be noted that, combined, Best Buy and Best Buy Canada would rank higher than Amazon on this list, but because they calculate their sales as individual entities, they get separate listings in our Top 101.
The realization that Amazon has taken this top spot is nothing surprising given the tremendous growth the company has experienced over the past several years. In fact, we're probably a little shocked that this hadn't happened sooner. But the narrative that this sea change helps tell is that even as major CE retail contenders like Best Buy and Walmart find ways to continue to grow in spite of Amazon, they simply cannot catch up or keep pace with what the online retailer has been able to accomplish. Both big box giants have received tremendous amounts of coverage over the past year—including on these pages—around how they've been able to "buck the retail trend" and actually experience growth while the rest of the retail industry crumbles. Their "success stories" have been enlightening from a brick-and-mortar retail perspective, but it still wasn't enough to prevent the inevitable.
Consumer Tech Sales Jump
As a whole, the CE retail industry is thriving. In 2017, CE sales in the U.S. and Canada for the Top 101 totaled $264.17 billion, a 14 percent increase over the $231.44 billion sold last year and a marked increase over the last three years of CE retail sales. And, in the face of a supposed “retail apocalypse,” CE retailers continued to open new stores in 2017. There were 91,446 stores operated by the Top 101 is 2017, up from 90,517 the year prior—a 929 store gain. Some of the top store openers included Dollar Genera (with 1,116 new locations opened last year), AutoZone (527), Dollar Tree (500), and Walgreens (282). Even Amazon opened 10 new locations last year—Whole Foods stores weren’t counted as they don’t technically qualify as a CE retailer.
It should be noted, though, that the industry is incredibly top heavy. $220.84 billion in consumer electronics sales was gobbled up by the top ten companies on this year’s list. That represented 83.6 percent of all CE retail sales, leaving just under $44 billion for the other 91 companies to divvy up amongst themselves.
Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine for the consumer electronics retail industry this past year. A number of major retailers closed up shop (hhgregg, RadioShack), announced their intent to close up shop (Toys R Us), or shuttered a large portion of their stores in an effort to stave off closing up their shops (Kmart/Sears). For their part, hhgregg has returned to the fold under new ownership and as an online-only retailer for the moment, but it’s essentially a shell of its former self at this moment.
New names on the list this year included The Hudson Group and Mickey Shorr. They replaced Hastings Entertainment and Projector Supercenter, both of which have gone out of business in the past year.
The growth experienced by consumer electronics retailers in 2018 was tremendous and unlike anything we've seen with our Top 101 listing to-date. That said, we don't expect that kind of growth to continue next year.
Retail as a whole, and consumer electronics retailers in particular, experienced a much-welcomed boost at the end of 2017 thanks to a much-better-than-expected holiday shopping season. Consumers came out in full force, opened their wallets, and helped the retail industry end the year on an incredibly high note. That final quarter of the year essentially saved the industry from what was otherwise a pretty awful calendar year.
Retailers can't bank on that kind of turnout and spending to happen again in 2018.
The economy is on shaky ground, which anyone keeping an eye towards the stock market these days will tell you. And the uncertainty created by the current administration in Washington, DC, keeps the retail industry on the edge of its seat—one week we're talking about tax reform that plays well with the business community, and the next we're facing down $100s of billions in tariffs that could undo all of that, and then some.
It's because of that uncertainty and it's potential impact on the economy and consumer confidence that leads us to believe 2019 won't see the same kind of growth for the consumer electronics retail industry. Our own consumer electronics retail confidence index has been tracking slightly down this year as well, which only provides more data to support that line of thinking.
But hey, we'd of course love to be proven wrong.
Related story: 2018 Dealerscope Top 101 Consumer Electronics Retailers