Can You Name This Other Troubled Electronics Retailer?
Best Buy (BBY), GameStop (GME) and RadioShack (RSH) are dreary these days, at best. Consumers drop by those stores to try out the latest TV, computer or tablet. Then many people go home and buy the same thing online.
Needless to say, Best Buy’s in turmoil and its founder is trying to take it private. GameStop in contemplating total reinvention as an Apple (AAPL) flea market. And RadioShack’s being compared to Circuit City.
Their profit margins are narrowing:
Revenue growth is falling:
And yet one retailer seems to envy them: Amazon (AMZN). Amazon's annual filing calls electronics a fast-growing category. Last year, it said it “electronics and other general merchandise” brought in 60% of sales. That grew 66% year over year, vs 37% for Amazon overall.
Amazon is undercutting its electronics competitors – by just a few bucks, at times. At the time of this writing, a Samsung 32-inch television with an LED screen is $300 at Best Buy. It’s $298 at Amazon. But Amazon’s slashing prices to the point that nobody can make money, including itself.
Let’s say Amazon drives these stores out of business, then what? Maybe chief Jeff Bezos thinks he’ll be the last man standing and will raise prices and enjoy wider profit margins. That’s a fantasy. When prices rise, new will competitors surface. In the meantime, it’s a sector of the walking dead.