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NPD: Digital Camera Sales To Double This Year

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- Sales of digital cameras will more than double this year compared to last year, predicts NPD Intelect Market Tracking.

The marketing information provider projects U.S. unit sales will reach 4.2 million units, translating to a 127 percent increase over 1999 sales of 1.8 million units.

Falling prices for the digital camera category should keep dollar sales growth at a lower pace. Nevertheless, analysts at NPDIntelect forecast a robust 79 percent growth rate in dollars -- with sales of digital cameras expected to reach $1.8 billion by year-end 2000, compared to $1 billion in 1999.

As for retail channels, the photo specialty store has become a winner of the growth trend by selling top-of-the-line digital cameras with the latest features.

Booming sales of digital cameras have created a windfall for the channel in first-half 2000, with the $700-and-above price point constituting 70 percent of sales in dollars.

The electronics specialty store, meanwhile, represents 50 percent of the same price point. However, unique to the electronics specialty stores is the $400 to $600 price point that successfully grew 34 percent in dollar share for the first half.

According to NPD Intelect, the average price of a digital still camera slipped from $544 in 1999 to $513 year-to-date 2000.This price decrease, the analyst noted, occurred even before the expected holiday season discounts.

In further examination of all channels, Sony leads the race for market share. The company captured the lion's share in both dollars (40.8 percent) and units (32.7 percent) across all channels tracked by NPD Intelect.

Olympus was next across the finish line with a 20.2 percent dollar share and 19.4 percent unit share.

As for category sales in general, senior manager Neil Portnoy commented, "With the strong demand of digital cameras and the holiday season upon us, the main issue the camera industry faces is not demand, but supply. Camera manufacturers are concerned about shortages in key components of digital still cameras.

"The only question for the remainder of the year is will manufacturers be prepared to meet the insatiable appetite that consumers have for digital cameras? We'll just have to wait and see."