The Impact of 2009 on Independent Retailers
Throughout the year, Best Buy exhibited the extent of its aggressiveness through its pricing strategies. "They slapped a lot of manufacturers in the face with how aggressive they were with products," said Trey Thofner, president of Jetson TV & Appliance Centers, Vero Beach, Fla. "I think that's going to be an advantage to us, going forward, because manufacturers don't want the tail wagging the dog, dictating to the market what their product's going to be sold at."
There was also the move by Walmart to turn its cannons on the CE category, not only through pricing but also by adding installation services. Some said those moves, along with Best Buy's, have permanently affected pricing structures in the entire TV space. It has also influenced vendors to shift from upper-tier TVs and technologies like OLED to cheaper products that can easily feed the mass-market beast. "Walmart has re-done their departments, and they are adding services, trying to do more than just a transaction," Workman said. "You cannot ignore that they are putting emphasis on the category."
Terry Oates, president of Kings Great Buys Plus, Evansville, Ind., is worried that the impending tug-of-war between Best Buy and Walmart for electronics share won't benefit anyone, including customers. "As the battle for share rages on, and the vendor community cannot make a profit, then innovation will suffer," he said. "Innovative products, clearly, have to be introduced somewhere other than at venues like Walmart and, to a lesser extent, Best Buy."
Burt Krieger, president of the Reading, Pa.-based Boscov's, noted that one of the most dramatic events over the past year has been the change in consumer attitude toward shopping. Buyers, he said, have turned into 'frugalistas.'