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CE Holiday Sales Up 27%: Report

Charleston, S.C. – Holiday purchases of consumer electronics rose 27 percent year over year, making it one of the biggest growth categories of the season.

According to seven weekly consumer surveys by America’s Research Group and Inmar, 27.6 percent of holiday shoppers bought CE this year, compared to 21.7 percent in 2012.

Of those, 18 percent of consumers purchased a TV, up from 13.1 percent last year; 17.5 percent bought a computer, compared to 10.6 percent in 2012; and a whopping 42.5 percent bought video games, vs. 35.4 percent last year.

The market research firms said Walmart was the No. 1 go-to retailer for TV purchases, and reported a 59 percent decline in Best Buy’s seasonal TV market share, to 10.1 percent.

Walmart also won in customer base retention rate, which America’s Research group chairman/CEO Britt Beemer described as “the key to retailing success.” More than 88 percent of Walmart shoppers made return visits, compared to 68 percent for Sears (up 8 percent); 57 percent for Best Buy (up 17 percent); and 44 percent for Barnes & Noble, which came in last.

 “If you’re losing 50 percent of your customers, you’re in grave trouble and your long-term future is doubtful,” Beemer said.

Target, which suffered a massive credit card security breach, only saw a 3.4 percent dip in customer retention, to 72.1 percent. Beemer said the discounter “weathered the storm … amazingly well largely due to a smart move on their part by giving consumers an additional 10 percent-off this past Saturday and Sunday.”

Surprisingly, growth within the e-commerce channel slowed, with the share of holiday shoppers placing online orders down to 37.9 percent from 41.7 percent last year. also showed a decline, with market share slipping to 25.3 percent from 29.3 percent, while Walmart’s online share increased from 6 percent to 8.7 percent year over year, the polls showed.

The holiday surveys also revealed that more than 22 percent of consumers had not yet finished their holiday shopping by this past weekend, up from 16 percent last year. Of those, more than a quarter said they were holding out for bigger sales and, in a game of retail chicken, 22 percent said they were waiting for discounts of 60 percent to 70 percent off in the last three days before Christmas to make their final holiday purchases.

“Deals continue to make the difference this holiday season,” concluded Inmar Analytics president John Ross.  “Retailers failed to excite shoppers this season due to a conservative advertising strategy” that limited promotions to half-off sales, Beemer added.

In a last-ditch effort to capture those procrastinators, retailers are extending their store hours and offering additional discounts in the final days before Christmas. Amazon today is taking $30 off its Kindle Fire HDX and providing free one-day shipping on select Kindle models, while Best Buy will remain open from 7 a.m. to midnight today, as it did this past weekend. And in a final holiday sales sprint, Toys“R”Us opened its doors at 6 a.m. Saturday morning and all stores will remain open until 9 p.m. Christmas Eve.