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CE Holiday Sales Spotty On Troubled TV Biz

New York – Santa’s bag
was decidedly mixed for consumer electronics retailers this Christmas.

Despite a better than 3 percent
increase in total retail sales and rabid demand for smartphones, tablets and
e-readers, tracking surveys and dealer accounts generally point to flat
year-over-year revenue for the CE sector overall.

Retailers said the root
cause of soft CE sales — up just 0.4 percent for the Oct. 31-Dec. 11 period,
according to MasterCard Advisors — was lower prices and slackened demand for
TV, a mature category that nonetheless remains the cornerstone of CE retailing.

Holiday traffic would
have needed to rise 15 percent to 20 percent year over year to outpace declining
TV prices, said Dave Workman, executive director/COO of the Progressive
Retailers Organization (PRO Group).

Dealers compensated with
audio, gaming, mobile, car A/V and all things Apple, particularly iPads, as tablets
— along with accessories and whole-home control applications — become a new
industry unto themselves.

Looking ahead to the New
Year, dealers believe that more modest TV price erosion will help buoy bottom
lines, while growing consumer confidence will lead to improved industry sales
in 2011.