The annual first quarter store closing announcements are trickling in, with electronics seller Best Buy revealing plans to close 50 big-box stores in the U.S. and put its money into 100 new Best Buy Mobile locations.
Best Buy has been concentrating on its smaller-format stores for more than a year, but the closing of 50 full-line stores hints at general weakness in the sales of its main products. Retail industry insiders Retail Traffic spoke to late last year have predicted as much, noting that in the absence of a hot new electronics item (and the increasing competition from Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and specialty sellers like Apple), shoppers don't have a good reason to visit a big-box electronics store.
Up to this point, most of the store closings have come from the book, apparel and footwear retailers.
But the consumer electronics sector appears to be in a particularly perilous situation as well, unless some popular new tech gadget creates a reason for shoppers to visit those stores during the holiday season, Bordwin says. And apparel stores continue to have a hard time. Year-to-date, U.S. apparel retailers tracked by ICSC posted same-store sales growth of just 2.8 percent, compared to the industry-wide growth of 5.1 percent.