The NATM buying group, boasting the same 12 core dealers and $6 billion in aggregate buying power as it did a year ago, marked its Annual Vendor Conference in late September in Dallas’ Ritz Carlton, starting off the run-up 12 months to its September 2020 50th anniversary with “healthy” members whose solidarity, sharing and kinship are helping them to stave off the effects of a 2019 that’s seen hard-won business gains. “I characterize this year as ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ – no long bombs, no big plays, no have-to-have-it technologies,” stated Executive Director Gerald Satoren, using a football analogy to describe CE and appliance industry overall business conditions to media at the event.
Last year, he said, the group outperformed the industry as a whole, with members capitalizing on opportunities with customers who became Sears “walkers” when its bankruptcy was declared. “Even for the Sears diehard customers, that watershed moment put them and the market up for grabs. I think we were really successful in grabbing that business – but it was a one-time event.”
For this year, Satoren added, “we are holding our share, tracking with the industry” – despite widespread industry trends pointing to slight dips in appliances sales volume and a TV business that is somewhat stagnant. “There is no runway for any product or technology or brand,” he observed. Nevertheless, he said, “In appliances? It’s growth – double-digit last year, and low- to mid-singles this year.”