In Fort Worth, Texas, Stuart Schuster, president of Marvin Electronics Company, in early October counted his family’s 60-year-old, single-store, audio/video retail business as being “very fortunate.” “This year and last year have been the highest amount of repossessions and foreclosures in Tarrant County, yet we don’t really see a lot of that,” Schuster said
Marvin Electronics stopped selling appliances 30 years ago, and now concentrates on the mid-to-high end a/v customer. While it does some work for builders, early all of its custom installation business is performed directly for the homeowner. “We see people being cautious, but I don’t have customers that have had foreclosures on their homes at all,” he said.
Positive CE trends, however, can’t whitewash how a tanking housing market has hurt appliances and furniture sales. The industry rule of thumb is that one new home generates the sale of five major appliances. Turmoil in the mortgage finance system in August led to an 8.3 percent drop in sales of new single-family homes for the month, according the U.S. Commerce Department. Sales of new homes dropped nationally to an annual rate of 795,000 units, 21.2 percent below a year earlier. Housing starts in August were down 19.1 percent from a year earlier, the lowest level in 12 years.