The 29th Annual America’s Top Music Chains
Here we are again – at the end of another 12-month cycle, able to look back and reflect on the year that was, and to make educated guesses at what the New Year will bring..2010 saw the continued impact (nonimpact?) of the controversial economic stimulus programs first spearheaded by the outgoing Bush administration in late 2008 and then subsequently broadened by Barack Obama and his team. A few years in, are all the tax breaks and incentives and increased federal spending helping the economy and, specifically, the MI world? There’s no easy answer. While the economic freefall and collapse of key financial institutions has unquestionably been halted, the long-term “big picture” benefits of these initiatives is certainly still up for debate, as evidenced by the recent “shellacking” Democrats (and, implicitly, Obama) suffered in the November midterm elections. “Higher taxes, health care reform, and government regulations” are the chief concerns for Robert Trombino of Trombino Music Centers in Pennsylvania and many others we spoke with while compiling this report shared his feelings: “Government” was – by far – the word that came up most when dealers shared their concerns for 2011.
Revenues for many were down (though in most cases only slightly) and the 68* dealerships included in the 29th edition of our “America’s Top Music Chains” Report have an overall store-count that is also down very slightly from 770 in 2009 to 767 in 2010. Interestingly, though, when asked, “Do you think you will see an increase in sales” for the coming year, the majority of retailers we spoke with – 67 percent – responded in the affirmative.
How to explain the apparent incongruity between “Our sales are down! Boo, the government! We blame the government!” and “Things will be much better in 2011!” is a complex task. Cautious optimism? Hope and faith that “the message” sent by voters has been heard and positive changes will be made? A belief that, despite the slow start and rocky steps along the way, the economy is showing signs of life? It could be a combination of those and many other factors, depending on who you talk to and your own, personal philosophies and experiences. One thing that does seem clear is that the hardships of the past few years have forced many to “smarten up” and rethink how they operate: “We were more profitable [in 2010] due to financial and productivity adjust ments we made,” observed William W. Gourley of Marshall Music Company in Lansing, Michigan.
Hopefully by applying lessons – often hard learned – and maintaining a positive outlook, 2011 will, indeed, prove to be a fantastic year for all of us.
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