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Weak electronics sales pressure Best Buy, Sears

Best Buy and Sears blame weak quarterly results on the fact that shoppers aren’t shelling out for consumer electronics.
By MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press Published: May 23, 2014
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— Is America’s love affair with gadgets fading?

Best Buy and Sears on Thursday both blamed their weak quarterly results on the fact that shoppers aren’t shelling out for consumer electronics.

Already squeezed by tough competition from online retailers like Amazon.com and discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target, retailers like Best Buy and Sears have been cutting costs and revamping merchandise and store formats to attract customers.

But the consumer electronics remains stagnant. Sales haven’t budged from about $145 billion in three of the last four years, according to research firm NPD Group.

Part of the problem is consumers are holding out for smartphone and tablet computer launches this fall. Apple and Samsung are expected to debut new products and an Amazon smartphone is rumored to be in the pipeline. Meanwhile, experts say things like the ultra-high definition 4K TVs have not been compelling enough for TV owners to upgrade.

“The category was weak. There’s no ‘Wow’ type product to get people in stores or even online,” said Brian Sozzi, of Belus Capital Advisors.

One exception: trendy products like wearable fitness devices. Sozzi said they’re “in demand, but not as in demand as you think.”

The result is weak sales. Best Buy said revenue fell 3 percent to $9.04 billion during the quarter that ended May 4. And revenue in stores open at least 14 months, a key retail metric, declined 1.9 percent. The company expects the metric to decline in the next two quarters as well.

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The category was weak. There’s no ‘Wow’ type product to get people in stores or even online.”

Brian Sozzi,
Belus Capital Advisors

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