TEMPE, AZ — A popular store that should be packed with Christmas shoppers is now a ghost town and many of its shelves are empty, but not for good reason.
"Walked in and thought they were going out of business," said one shopper. "It looks like the place got cleaned out," said another.
Many customers say they’ve asked workers why the shelves inside the Tempe Fry's Electronics are so empty.
"The employee says, well you can see what I see, nothing going on, he said home office is telling us everything is fine," another shopper told ABC15.
But video from viewers inside Fry's Electronics in Tempe suggests otherwise. Display areas now devoid of merchandise. Entire aisles barren. After stopping into Fry's Wednesday, Karen Mack is now digging for discounts online.
"Just was shocked at how little product there was on the shelves, I mean you could've gone bowling in there and not hit a thing it was so empty," said Karen Mack.
Mack says she is a Fry's Electronics regular this time of year.
"This is where I go all the time cause their prices are traditionally the best," said Mack.
Leading her to pose the question on everyone's mind.
"I said are you going out of business and they're like no, because of the tariffs, we're going to try and find American venders because it's too expensive," said Mack.
Due to the trade war between the U.S. and China, it now costs more for companies importing electronics like TV's, computers, smart speakers and even drones,
Fry's Electronics tells ABC15 they are not going out of business but converting most of its suppliers to consignment, causing a temporary shortage of inventory.
In a statement they say:
"While tariffs may play a role in securing some vendors, the competitiveness of the retail market is a significant factor."
As online retailers like Amazon increase their hold on the market, more and more brick and mortar stores are finding themselves facing an uncertain future, leaving customers like Mack wondering if they'll survive the season.
"You know Christmas sales, what a time of year to make this decision, I mean it's rough," said Mack.
Fry’s Electronics full statement is below:
“While tariffs may play a role in securing some vendors, the competitiveness of the retail market is a significant factor.
All retailers are adjusting to provide their customers the best price, selection, and convenience of purchasing and obtaining the products they seek.
Fry's is no different. Our online business has grown and evolved over the years to meet the challenges of Amazon and others. Our customers like having the option of being able to shop in our stores, or ordering via Frys.com. Our same-day delivery in local markets is popular, and, again, we can ship to customers from any store[fulfillment center] that has product available.
Fry’s is in the process of converting most of its suppliers to consignment, which has resulted in temporary low-stock. Additional product is arriving at all our stores, and more will be in the pipeline and arriving over the next several weeks. This is a work-in-progress, and it has taken a bit longer than we'd like and originally had anticipated.
However, our customers can rest assured, Fry's intends to continue providing our valued customers with a great selection of quality electronics products, and knowledgeable service, now and in the future.
Customers also can order products on line for delivery/shipping from their local Fry's Store, or from any other Fry's store in our chain which has the products they want in stock.”