Radio Shack HDTV: One Year Later

It was just over a year ago that Radio Shack started its focus on HDTV. You may recall that I was skeptical at the time. So now would be a good point to ask “How’s that working for you?” Well, by some simple indicators, the answer doesn’t look too positive.

Professor Poor’s Weekly Price Intelligence Report tracks the newspaper sales circulars for the major electronics retailers. Stores like Circuit City and Best Buy advertise dozens of HDTVs each week. The Radio Shack circular that came in my paper last week did not advertise a single HDTV. In fact, over the past six months, I’ve logged listings for a grand total of three HDTVs in Radio Shack flyers.

If you look at the company’s Web site, you will find listings for 15 HDTVs in the 31″ to 40″ range (and nothing larger). Of these, four are available only online. So this means there are fewer than a dozen models that you’ll find in a Radio Shack store, and I’m guessing that you won’t even find all of them in your local store.

The company’s second quarter financials showed a profit compared to a loss for the same period last year, but sales were down significantly. The profit came from controlling costs and selling items with better profit margins. The company statements don’t single out HDTV, but from looking at their sales circulars, these higher profit items seem to be iPod accessories and GPS systems.

Retail can be a tough way to make a living, especially in consumer electronics. And HDTVs are probably the most difficult segment of that market. It doesn’t look as though HDTV has been the winning strategy that Radio Shack had hoped for, and the big retailers are going to make it increastingly difficult for the smaller chains and independent stores to make HDTV work for them.