On the panel were Bhavesh Patel, commercial director at distributor Ingram Micro; Steve Reid of market resercher GfK; independent retailers Hendy Armstong and Anthony Knee and Clive Bishop of Brigantia.
The recent turmoil the government handling of the WEEE regulations has caused has been the hot topic of the channel for weeks now, so its no surprise that it was the first topic to be discussed.
Armstrong led the charge, claiming that two weeks was no where near enough time for retailers to comply with the legislation and that the law itself had been misinterpreted by the UK government.
Knee reflected the general disdain for the handling of the law, saying that small retailers are now being forced to exploit loop holes and that of the thousands of PC retailers active the UK, the number of stores that have signed up could be as little as 200.
The opinions were echoed by Bishop and Patel, while Knee finished off by predicting that the DTI would be looking to make an example of one of the ‘big boy’ retailers very soon.
The other main point of discusion was Vista. Reid quoted a GfK statistic which predicted that 73 per cent of all PC sales in 2007 will contain Vista. Others were less enthusiastic, with Armstrong saying that Vista was not important in his business and Knee claiming that there wasn’t much interest in the operating system in his store either, though the latter conceeded that it would be big factor in the near future.
Other areas of discusion included future product buying trends, where flash memory was universally hailed to be one the most lucrative sectors in the coming months.
At the end of the debate, a member of the audience asked the panel what can smaller retailers practically do when faced by such aggresive online competition. This, along with a further write up of the event, will be answered by the members of the panel in the May edition of PC Retail.