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Retail Trends


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It’s hardly a shock to find Apple atop the hardgoods segment standings: Can you say iPad?

What is surprising, though, is the appearance of such homegoods retailers as Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma and TJX, the latter appearing thanks to the home furnishings and housewares merchandise in so many of the conglomerates’ stores. Home goods retailers’ sales sank when the housing market plunged — sounding the death knell for Linens ’n Things — but now that the survivors have learned to handle consumers’ new demand level, fortunes are again rising, albeit against some soft prior-year comparisons.

hhgregg and P.C. Richard & Son also qualify as homegoods retailers, in this case due to the sale of larger consumer electronics merchandise, major appliances and associated goods. Long Island, N.Y.-based Richards operates primarily in the Northeast, where the recession did not cut as deep and the recovery has been more vigorous. hhgregg has been expanding exponentially, primarily by exploiting the void left by the closing of Circuit City stores a few years ago. It launched a multi-store blitz in South Florida this summer and is planning a similar invasion of the Chicago area after Labor Day.

Just as the home goods category has propelled specialty chains into the select group of hot hardgoods retailers, so too has the automotive aftermarket segment, as reflected by the presence of O’Reilly Automotive, Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone. In this case, the somnambulant national economy has induced many consumers to spend money keeping their older vehicles running rather than committing to payments on replacements.