NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Steve Jobs did what many retail CEOs only dream of accomplishing -- he turned discretionary items into necessities.
In a challenging economy, when retailers were simply trying to figure out how to unload T-shirts, shoes and food without resorting to drastic discounts, Jobs sold iPhones, iPads and iPods as if they were water in a barren dessert.
"As a prime example of modern day ingenuity and creativity, Steve Jobs offered the world an inside look at what the future of consumer electronics can and will become, with generations of consumers now able to thank him for his brilliant innovations," the National Retail Federation said in a statement. "He leaves behind a legacy that will inspire retail companies for decades to come."
"The world is a better place because of Steve Jobs," said Sears(SHLD_) CEO Lou D'Ambrosio. "His vision, guts, and commitment transformed the technology, retail, and media industries. In 1999, I had a discussion with Steve during which he described the way music and the world would be brought to people's fingertips. Back then, it sounded like a dream; now I realize how prophetic he was."
J.C. Penney's (JCP_) hiring of Ron Johnson, the former head of Apple's retail stores, as CEO is the greatest testament to Apple's impact on the sector. Johnson, who reported directly to Jobs, will assume the role on Nov. 1.