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CE Retail Sales Flat In 2011: NPD

Port Washington, N.Y. – U.S. retail sales of consumer electronics
slipped 0.5 percent in 2011 to nearly $144 billion, The NPD Group reported.

Nearly 60 percent of the sell-through was driven by the top five CE
categories – PCs, TVs, tablets/e-readers, mobile phones and video game hardware
– with help from No. 1 brand Apple and No. 1 CE retailer Best Buy.

Broken out by distribution channel, in-store sales fell about 2.5
percent while sales through online, direct mail and TV shopping channels jumped
7 percent last year, accounting for 24 percent of all sales, up from 22 percent
in 2010. Sales through these non-brick-and-mortar channels captured 25 percent
of industry revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Despite their sales strength, retail stores still face serious
challenges in 2012 as volumes in the traditional CE categories, which once
carried these stores, continue to slide,” said NPD industry analysis VP Stephen
Baker. “It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that a large majority of mobile
phones and tablets/e-readers” – which he described as the two fastest growing
CE categories – “have mostly been driven through in-store experiences,” and
that retail nameplates still accounted for well over four of every five dollars
spent on CE hardware in the U.S.

Broken out by product category, PCs (notebooks and desktops)
generated the most revenue with nearly $28 billion in sales, accounting for
almost 20 percent of sales, but that figure was down 3 percent from 2010.

Tablets/e-readers were the clear winner in 2011, NPD said, nearly
doubling sales to $15 billion in 2011.

“U.S. hardware sales growth is becoming harder and harder to
achieve at the broad industry level,” noted Baker. “Sales outside of the top
five categories fell by 8 percent in 2011 as consumers shifted spending from
older technologies to a narrow range of products.”

Apple clearly benefited from this shift, becoming the top-volume
CE brand for the second consecutive year with a 36-percent sales spike. The
company also claimed a 19 percent share of all CE sales dollars in the fourth
quarter of 2011, nearly twice that of No. 2 brand Hewlett-Packard, whose 2011
sales slipped 3 percent. Trailing Apple and HP were Samsung, with a 6 percent
sales decline; Sony, whose sales sank 21 percent; and Dell, whose sales fell 17

Among retailers, Best Buy came out on top once again, followed by
Walmart and Apple. Staples and Amazon tied for fourth place to round out the
top five, in a repeat of 2010.