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December Issue Feature: Year In Review: A Retailer's Perspective

Mobile Electronics, December 2016 Issue, 12-7-2016 -- Let’s start with the obvious. An election year typically represents transition and a sense of ambiguity for the country, and most definitely has an impact on the economy. As we voted for a new president in 2016, a man who will usher in a vastly different era, the business outlook for 2017 seems solid, yet uncertain simultaneously. Whether president-elect Donald Trump will actually be able to deliver on his promise to “Make America Great Again” is yet to be seen.

The election is just one factor in the forecast for the year ahead. Analysts look at a variety of industry sources to determine how the economy will fare which ultimately affects how consumers feel and impacts how retailers may fare.

Wage growth, for example, is expected to be slightly up for next year and is increasing faster than inflation. According to projections by Aon Hewitt, a management consulting firm in Lincolnshire, Ill., base pay will be 3 percent in 2017, up slightly from 2.8 percent in 2016.

Jobs are increasing at a moderate pace and more confident consumers, a status that has been the sentiment since last summer, suggests that spending levels will hold steady or may even slightly increase for next year which is good news for 12-volt retailers. While most consumers aren’t spending beyond their means, few are holding back from making purchases—also good news for 12-volt retailers.

While there weren’t too many bumps in the road this year, many retailers were conservative with their buying and managed inventories more tightly. Retailers have also said they’ve been more proactive when partnering with vendors making sure it’s a good fit and that they are not subjected to unrealistic minimums or inflexible terms.

Retail Overview

Throughout the year Mobile Electronics has spoken with both retailers and manufacturers about a variety of topics: partnering with the right mix of vendors, in-store promotions, maximizing store space, training and education for salespeople and installers, driver distraction and safety, the omni-channel shopping experience, and creating or participating in store, local, or regional events.

Stores across the country were asked about their closing thoughts on 2016 and how they plan to accelerate business in 2017. For the most part retailers expressed satisfaction with 2016 and said they would be finishing the year on a positive note. Many had mixed feelings about the election and said it was still too early to tell what impact the new White House administration would have on their businesses.

In the heart of the Northeast, Carlos Ramirez, owner of NVS Audio, based in Linden, N.J., said he was pleased with the results of the year. “We’re still doing $5,000 audio systems,” Ramirez said. “But we’re having a horrible remote start season just like we did last year at this time because the weather has been so warm. The difference for me is that I haven’t done my buying yet so that should help. Last year I sat with product until the spring.”

NVS Audio, named a Top 12 Retailer of 2016 by Mobile Electronics magazine, is also taking a step in a new direction by branching out with its first Groupon. The promotion was scheduled to start right before Thanksgiving and was offering 50 percent off remote start installation. The customer pays for the parts. According to Ramirez, it ends up being a $150 discount.

While business has been healthy for bigger ticket projects, Ramirez is taking a  hands-on approach to entice more cash-strapped customers by redoing the front of his store. “We’ve been struggling to capture that lower-end customer so we’re making it more consumer friendly for those with a lower budget,” he said. “We’re definitely one of the most expensive shops in town, charging $125 an hour while others are charging $70, and we’re doing a lot of more work at the higher end, so we want to be attractive to those with a lower budget.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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