Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), Target Corporation (TGT): Brick and Mortar Stores May See a Comeback

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Brick and mortar stores have suffered as more consumers look to online markets for retail purchases. E-commerce has an expected growth rate of nearly 10% per year. With this expansion, brick and mortar stores are reacting differently.

Consumer electronics stores have suffered. Circuit City closed down and others have been struggling to survive. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) expanded their electronics selections, which has made it more difficult for specialty stores to thrive.

The low-credit store

CONN’S, Inc. (NASDAQ:CONN) adjusted its full-year earnings forecast 20% higher. It recently released quarterly earnings for its fourth quarter. Total revenue grew by 10% to $253 million. Total earnings per share were $.54 per share. This was under Wall Street expectations of $0.56, though.

The company operates 68 stores in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. The company serves lower-income consumers and offers in-store credit. Roughly 61% of retail purchases are financed with in-store credit services. It has been able to corner this market of the under-banked population.

The company is in the process of remodeling some of its locations. It has also been selling more mattresses and furniture. Margins are much higher on these products than on electronics. With a projected 20% increase in sales, the stock price will likely grow to $47 per share – if the company can come through with actual results.

The big name store

Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) has one of the strongest brands in specialty electronics retail. It operates 4,379 stores worldwide with over 1,500 of these in the United States. The company has had a challenging year, facing steep competition with online retailers. But, the stock has more than doubled in the last few months to $24.34 per share.

One main factor that has stalled Best Buy’s growth is “show-rooming.” This is where a customer comes in to a store and browses products, learns about them and then purchases them online for a lower price.

Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) did two things to fight this challenge. First, it instituted a price-match guarantee–if a customer finds a cheaper price, Best Buy will match it. Second, Samsung announced it will launch the Samsung Experience inside Best Buy stores to showcase its own products.

Last year the company closed 49 of its stores in an effort to cut costs. This year it will close an additional 5 stores. This will save the company roughly $800 million by 2015. This is a step towards better profits, but it will be a long road ahead. New CEO Hubert Joly is focusing on online sales and escalating a multi-channel customer experience and cutting costs.

The appliance specializer

hhgregg, Inc. (NYSE:HGG) is a retailer of home appliances, televisions, electronics and other home goods. It operates 228 stores in the United States. The company has grown its revenues by 68% over the last three years, and nearly 40% of all sales come from appliances. It offers home delivery service for most of its large appliances.

With large home appliances there is a built-in cycle. Appliances need to be replaced regularly so there is a multi-year cycle of purchases for certain appliances. Because of this, analysts at Reuters expects sales to decline this year but grow by 7% next year.

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