By Hendley Badcock
RadioShack announced Tuesday that it will be closing up to 1,100 stores of its stores – nearly one-fifth of its total number. Whether any of the company’s 144 stores in Virginia will be among those closed is still unknown.
RadioShack, a Fort Worth-based company traditionally known as an electronic parts and battery provider, began recreating its image by providing mobile technology services and products.
A critically acclaimed ad during this year’s Feb. 2 Super Bowl broadcast poked fun at the chain’s once-stodgy image by saying, “The ’80s Called: They Want Their Store Back.” (Watch the ad)
But a slow holiday season for the company deflated its 2013 fourth quarter sales by 19 percent That under-performance during the company’s most important months has driven its stock down by 16 percent.
Stifel Analyst David Schick told The New York Times that RadioShack relies too much on wireless and mobile technology, “which now survives on replacements and upgrades rather than offering the rapid growth of something new.”
Schick also said that RadioShack’s presence in so many communities used to give the chain an edge. But even a high number of convenience stores cannot compete with the ultimate convenience of online shopping.
According to a company news release, RadioShack reported that, despite the losses, it is making progress on its “turnaround plan: repositioning the brand, revamping the product assortment, reinvigorating the stores, operational efficiency and financial flexibility.”
“We will continue to have a strong, unmatched presence across the U.S.,” the corporate news release said.
After the company completes the closings, RadioShack will continue to run more than 4,000 stores across the country. That’s nearly as many as Walmart’s 4,800 locations nationwide.
The company has not yet said which locations will close or how many of its 30,000 employees will lose their jobs.
An employee at the Lexington location on North Lee Highway said she could not comment on the fate of the local store. Nor would she say how many employees currently work in the Lexington store.
RadioShack’s local electronics competitors include Walmart, Verizon Wireless, and nTelos Wireless. If the Lexington branch closes, residents would have to travel as far as Staunton or Roanoke to find a RadioShack.