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CE Sales Up 7% In May: NPD

Port Washington, N.Y. — CE sales at retail rose 7 percent in May to more than $5.4 billion, representing the greatest year-over-year increase in 2008, The NPD Group said.

According to the market research group, the federal government’s stimulus checks played a part in the rebound, which was centered on six categories: notebook computers, LCD TVs, digital point-and-shoot cameras, personal media players, inkjet cartridges and desktop computers.

Notebooks and LCDs were tied for first place in dollar volume, with each accounting for about $795 million, or 14.7 percent, of industry sales last month.

Together the categories accounted for 49 percent of all dollar volume in May, up from 44 percent during the year-ago period.

Despite last month’s boost, CE dollar sales are down 3 percent year-to-date from 2007 levels.

Stephen Baker, NPD’s industry analysis VP, said the “real test” for CE will come in the second half of the year. “We’ve reached a point of market saturation in some of the biggest growth categories, and as a result, regardless of economic conditions, growth through the key back-to-school and holiday seasons will be challenging,” he predicted.

Baker said retailers and manufacturers will have to provide more compelling products, promotions and pricing in order to drive “meaningful growt