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CE Holiday Sales Rise: NPD

Las Vegas – Holiday sales of the core TV, PC, tablet and headphone categories rose 3.7 percent to $9.5 billion during the critical five weeks between Nov. 24 and Dec. 28, The NPD Group reported, compared to a year-ago rise of 1 percent.

The categories, which include desktop and notebook PCs, represent the top five CE product sectors by revenue, excluding mobile phones, Kindle tablets and e-readers, and video game hardware and software.

TVs remained the largest revenue category and had a surprisingly strong holiday season, NPD said, with unit sales up 4 percent after nearly a full year of monthly unit volume declines. Stephen Baker, the research firm’s industry analysis VP, told a TWICE retail panel this morning that despite the highly-promotional early holiday season, overall TV average selling prices (ASPs) declined by less in 2013 than in any of the previous three years, bolstered by a 55 percent increase in unit sales of TVs 60 inches and larger.

In addition, consumers purchased 11 million tablets during the holiday period, up 45 percent from 2012, although revenue increased only 7 percent.  Sales of 7-inch tablets grew by nearly 2.5 million units and accounted for 38 percent of all sales, with an ASP of $102.

Notebook PC sales were expected to experience unit and dollar declines, but were actually flat compared with 2012. Strong unit volume for Chromebooks (up 112 percent) and Macbooks (up 13 percent) offset weakness in Windows devices (down 6 percent). However, Windows notebook ASPs increased by $5 this year, buoyed by touchscreen models which accounted for 38 percent of sales volume with their nearly 10 percent price premium.

In audio, headphone sell-through remained “stellar,” NPD noted, and soundbar sales nearly doubled in unit and dollar volume, topping the $200 million mark for the first time. But wireless speakers were the star of the holiday marketplace, as revenue rose 2.5 fold to $310 million.

Another holiday highlight: tablet and cellphone accessories. Revenue for the latter rose 17 percent to $423 million, while dollar volume of tablet cases and other accoutrements increased 19 percent, exceeding last year’s results.

Revenue outside the top five categories fell 4.3 percent on top of a more than 9-percent decline in 2012, although a number of secondary categories saw strong revenue growth and breakout sales volumes in 2013, NPD said.

CE sales were especially strong during the first three weeks of the holiday season, buoyed by a robust Thanksgiving week and sales gains throughout the week of Cyber Monday.

“This was a unique calendar year,” Baker said. “With Thanksgiving coming so late, the importance of the early selling season was amplified. It is not a coincidence that these four product groups were among the most highly promoted products during Black Friday and Cyber Week promotions.”

Looking to the new year, Baker noted that “All in all, we believe that the 2013 holiday season will be a catalyst for strong results in 2014. We have a broad and deep selection of product segments showing unit and dollar growth.  These fundamental, positive trends, combined with what is likely to be a strong year for new product introductions, point to an encouraging outlook for 2014.”