RadioShack is on the comeback trail, and its first appeal to holiday shoppers comes Nov. 25, when the electronics retailer plans to run its Black Friday deals a day before any other major chain. Stores will feature nearly 100 different deals, and stay open an hour later than normal on Wednesday. On Thanksgiving, stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. only, giving shoppers a chance to finish their hunt for savings hours before most other retailers plan to open their doors.
The once-outdated electronics retailer, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February and closed more than half its stores this year, has undergone a transformation in the past six months under new ownership and management by General Wireless, an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General. Stores have been updated with new decor, merchandise is in stock and RadioShack has struck up new partnerships with well-known national brands to entice holiday shoppers.
That includes a deal with Amazon to sell the 6-inch Kindle Fire HD with a case, plus partnerships with Apple, Bang & Olufsen, iON cameras and SteelSeries gaming products. RadioShack is also determined to win back its status as a go-to neighborhood electronics retailer, with a heavy emphasis on stocking items that appeal to DIY consumers, such as cables, antennas and connectors.
“We think the No. 1 driver for us is to be in stock with all of the things that people naturally go to RadioShack to buy,” says Ron Garriques, a former Dell executive who was named by Standard General as RadioShack’s CEO in April. Garriques says the company’s investment in creating more efficient stores will also stand out this holiday season. “I think you’ll find a cleaned up, brighter, fun experience,” he says.
In an incredibly competitive environment for consumer electronics though, RadioShack may not be able to rely on neighborhood convenience alone, particularly given it doesn’t stand out for one particular product, says Neil Saunders, CEO of retail research agency Conlumino. “The challenge for RadioShack is how does it create its own sort of ecosystem,” he says, similar to what Amazon and Apple have done with their branded products. In lieu of one big product driver, the retailer will need to offer compelling promotions and heavy discounts in order to compete with the likes of Amazon and Best Buy, Saunders says.