Monday, November 10, 2008

Lights Out For Circuit City?

I'd first like to apologize to my readers for a long delay in updates around here. I've recently begun experimenting with other ideas here and abroad while being generally busy and unable to travel much while the retail world shows continual slowdown. As you know, The Caldor Rainbow is dedicated to mostly that of on-site reporting and photography in the realms of focuses over the past couple years. Just to let you know, even when updates are slow, I read all your e-mails (even ones the spam blocker throws aside), page comments and appreciate input on all of our pages.

News that piqued my interest as of late was that of what our fellows at Labelscar (and most of the retail sphere are) bringing about -- the impending downfall and drudge of big box electronics retailer, Circuit City -- who seems to be just another but one of the big namers to soon engulf in darkness. Thus far, the 2008 year has been rough for the retailers with a year full of turmoil -- from a troubling economy in part due to rising essential costs that have been squeezing everyone (gas; which has remarkably fallen to two and a quarter as I write this). It's not all the economy though, on the upside, its competitor Best Buy has been doing quite well. Other fellow electronic-centric retailers like CompUSA, which pulled out of many markets, became decimated to just 23 stores and as an online outlet.

Last week, The Consumerist broke the news of Circuit City closing of 155 stores nationwide; with only one store, in Orange, closing in Connecticut. The Constitution State held the fewest hit with closings with one of the ten surviving stores -- evidence now suggests soon may follow in the near future. The company's far-reaching ones on the Westcoast like Arizona and California got whacked while some other (smaller) markets held onto its share.

Just today, Circuit City announced its falling into the quicksand of retailing; Chapter 11 in addition will cut 700 jobs. Few retailers ever find solace from the doom, and even when they do, it never extinguishes the possibility of failure like late retailer Bradlees, who fell shortly after its own recovery.

Critics said this moment was bound to come -- not because its category rival Best Buy has been outselling and marketing the second-tier electronics retailer but because of a much ballyhooed, controversy whereby the company axed 3,400 "overpaid employees" in early 2007. Editorially, this inept move from former company CEO Phillip Shoonover seems to have delivered the company's karmatic blow.

Self-proclaimed consumer warrior and radio personality Clark Howard discussed and addressed the Circuit City issue more eloquently than I could have on his November 4th show (link directs to free MP3/podcast download). Clark would naturally have you stray from "extended store warranties" anyway but now more than ever, we urge our readers caution.

To be frank, I've never really shared a customer bond with Circuit City as with other retail stores in past and present, and have preferred Best Buy (though I have plenty issues with their company policies, employees) but pop in there every now and then and am often surprised at their odds and ends and discounts. When the company made that fate-breaking, despicable move to fire its experienced, loyal employees (and thinking it would be a good idea to do so), my demeanor of their company model has been nothing less than of dour and disdain.

For more on Circuit City, check out the Consumerist's "Death Watch" timeline.

As with all retailers, I hate to see failure even when a company makes a grave error as it did with CEO Shoonover. Furthermore, will you miss Circuit City should they go? Where did they go wrong? Share your thoughts.

Title image: Trumbull, Conn taken by The Caldor Rainbow.