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Opening prices for personal navigation devices (PNDs) slipped $50 to $100 or more since January, and the declines could extend into higher end models as the "Moms, Dads and Grads" selling season approaches, marketers and retailers said.
Prices at the lower end of the market declined from about $299 in January to as low as $179 on a JVC model at CompUSA as of mid-April. Similar prices were seen briefly on PNDs during last year's Black Friday, but prices on most of those models returned to $299 and above immediately following the holiday.
Now, however, prices are slipping back. Black Friday-like pricing was in evidence by mid-April, when the Mio C310x was available at Fry's.com for $189, the Magellan Road Mate 2000 was selling at $239 at CarToys.com and the JVC eAvinu was selling for at $179 at CompUSA.com. An older Garmin model, the c330, was available for $269 at WalMart.com after selling for $399 earlier in the year.
Two years ago, typical prices for PNDs with preloaded nationwide maps was $600 and above.
Suppliers attribute some of the recent declines to economies of scale realized with the market's tripling in size in 2006, but some of the declines are the result of retailers cutting back on margins, said Magellan senior worldwide marketing director Howard Leyda. "It's not just the manufacturer. When you see sub-$199, it's a retailer who has decided to work on a lower margin. It's not a sustainable price."
Tony Mirabelli, Cobra's senior sales and marketing VP, said he has seen $50 to $100 declines at the low end since January. Nancy Levy, buyer for Abe's of Maine in Brooklyn, N.Y., said she saw a 20 percent decline in low-end GPS pricing since January and expects a similar 20 percent decline in May and June on higher end models. A PND marketer who wished to remain anonymous agreed that prices on higher end models will fall.
Magellan wouldn't discuss Dads and Grads promotions, but Magellan's Leyda said, "Everyone has promotional efforts. I can't talk about them specifically, but we've developed plans with our key retailers for Dads and Grads." He also said, "We expect Dads and Grads to be one of the next big bumps in overall business."
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