CE Holiday Sales Fall 6%: NPD


Port Washington, N.Y. - Retail sales of mature CE categories fell 5.9 percent to about $9.5 billion during the Nov. 20 through Dec. 24 holiday period, The NPD Group reported.

The dollar-volume data, collected from select retailers at point-of-sale, excludes cellphones, tablets, e-readers and video games.

But the report revealed that the core TV and PC categories dipped only 4 percent in dollars and were essentially flat in unit volume despite marketplace weakness last year.

Leading the holiday decline were camcorders (down 42.5 percent), digital picture frames (down 37.5 percent) and GPS devices (down 32.6 percent), the market research group said.

"2011 was the first year in quite a while where the real drags on the core CE marketplace were not TVs and PCs," observed Stephen Baker, NPD's industry analysis VP. "Revenue for those two segments outperformed while the rest of the market dropped by more than 7 percent. The accelerated rate of decline in older technology categories such as DVD, GPS and MP3 players put a ceiling on how well the industry could perform during the holiday."

 TV was boosted by sales of big-screen models, with unit volume for 50-inch and larger displays up by approximately 32 percent. Indeed, about one in six flat-panel TVs sold during the holiday period was above 50 inches, and the share of TVs greater than 60 inches more than tripled.

What's more, 3DTVs, which NPD described as "the industry's most maligned segment," saw unit volumes soar by more than 100 percent, as models with 3D capability accounted for more than one in every $5 spent on TVs during the five-week period.

Conversely, 32-inch TVs, the market's largest size segment, saw revenue drop almost 9 percent and average selling prices (ASPs) fall below $300, to $277.

Desktop PCs posted a 2 percent unit volume increase but it wasn't enough to offset the 5 percent decline in notebook sales which brought overall PC sales down 4 percent. ASPs rose $9 year-over year to $575, continuing last year's trend of higher holiday pricing. Windows-based all-in-one PCs increased 135 percent and accounted for almost 20 percent of all Windows desktop unit sales volume.

 Under-the-TV devices were another bright spot for the industry. Sales revenue for home-theater systems increased by 10 percent, receiver revenue increased by 3.5 percent, and stand-alone streaming devices enjoyed a 65 percent increase in revenue, although sales of Blu-ray Disc players declined 17 percent.

Other categories experiencing double-digit decreases included hard disk drives (down 25.1 percent), point-and-shoot cameras (down 20.8 percent) and MP3 players (down 20.5 percent).

 "It was truly a mixed bag," Baker noted. "Many newer technologies posted strong gains, although most of those products, such as streaming devices, still generate volumes too small to impact the overall market trend. These newer technologies are likely to be the ones to watch in 2012 as the industry continues to search for high growth opportunities to replace aging product segments."

The total 5.9 percent holiday-period decline represents a slight improvement over 2010's 6.2 percent decrease, and echoes December CE weakness reported by



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