CE Revenue Down 6% In Q4: CEA

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Arlington, Va. - Fourth-quarter sales of CE devices will fall 5.9 percent in dollars but climb by the same percentage in units, according to a revised forecast by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The dollar decline comes on top of a 6.4 percent drop in revenue during the year-ago period, although unit volume rebounded strongly from last year's 6.3-percent decline.

GPS devices led this quarter's revenue retreat with a 51.8-percent decrease year over year, while A/V - including MP3 players and camcorders - had the mildest decline at -2.7 percent. GPS also saw the steepest slide in unit volume, down 27.3 percent from last year, while computers showed the strongest unit growth with a 17.3 percent gain.

The projections, based on consumer holiday surveys, shipment figures and macroeconomic data, were presented yesterday in a CEA Webinar hosted by Shawn DuBravac, the trade group's chief economist and research director, and strategic research manager Jessica Boothe.

CEA also shared the results of its Black Friday consumer surveys, which pointed to digital media players and MP3 devices as the most sought after CE products during the holiday weekend.

Thirty-one percent of shoppers who bought CE products over the Thanksgiving weekend purchased portable media devices, DuBravac said, followed by video game consoles (28 percent), TVs (26 percent) and digital cameras (24 percent).

More than half of all weekend shoppers (54 percent) purchased a CE product, trailing only toys (55 percent) and apparel (71 percent).

The findings were based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 adults Nov. 27-29, and in-store surveys of 273 shoppers on Black Friday by sales and marketing firm ChannelForce.

DuBravac said doorbuster deals were tamer than anticipated in several key categories, including Blu-ray Disc players, netbooks, 32-inch 720p LCDs and 50-inch 720p plasmas. Conversely, price cuts on 15-inch notebooks were deeper than expected on Black Friday morning.

Consumers also responded strongly to bundled sales offers that combined TVs with Blu-ray Disc players or game consoles, he said, and to gift cards that came with purchases of fixed-price products like Apple devices.

DuBravac noted that lean inventories at manufacturers and retailers will likely keep pricing rational through the remainder of the holiday selling season, although retrenchment by consumers could spark additional price promotions.

Among other findings:

·         Black Friday continues to grow in popularity, as reflected in the regular 20 percent year-over-year spikes in Google search volume the day after Thanksgiving, and the 22 percent of respondents who said they were first-time holiday weekend shoppers.

·         Traffic through all channels was up over the four-day period and fell off on CyberMonday, DuBravac observed, although retailers are trying to extend the Black Friday inflection point through the increased use of pre- and post-Thanksgiving promotions.

·         Both retailers and consumers leveraged social-networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to publicize promotions and share pricing information.

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