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CE Sales Down 6% Thanksgiving Week: NPD

Port Washington, N.Y. – Strong demand for tablet computers was not enough to offset a 5.6 percent drop in CE sales the week of Thanksgiving, The NPD Group reported.

The period spans the Saturdays before and after Thanksgiving Day and includes Black Friday.

The downturn follows a nearly 4 percent decrease in 2011.

Damping down sales were steep declines in mature categories like GPS and camcorders, both down 40 percent in revenue year over year.

“This slow start is merely a continuation of the challenges seen in the consumer electronics business throughout 2012,” said NPD industry analysis VP Stephen Baker. “In an unbalanced market, where just a few categories deliver significant dollars, and even fewer offer any growth, the ability to deliver positive results will remain difficult for companies exposed to the entire consumer electronics marketplace.”

Top sellers were Android tablets, TVs and PCs, which accounted for 58 percent of all holiday week revenue.

Sales of Android tablets (excluding Amazon Kindle products) surged 177 percent in units and 91 percent in dollars despite a $68 drop in average selling price (ASP), to $151.

In contrast, TV unit volume rose 4 percent for the week while revenue declined 6 percent on falling ASPs, which dropped to $333 from $367 last year.

A record 40 percent of all flat-panel unit volume came from 32-inch displays, but with an all-time low ASP of $194 those sales dragged overall revenue down, NPD said. Panels 50-inches and above experienced a unit volume increase of 65 percent, although the real star of the segment was 60-inch and larger displays. Sales of those panels increased 10 times over 2010 and accounted for 6 percent of all TV unit volume, compared to less than 1 percent two years ago.

Notebook PCs continued their year-long struggle as unit volume dropped 10 and revenue fell 5 percent. Sales of Apple notebooks were flat while Windows notebook sales fell 10 percent year over year. Windows 8 systems represented 89 percent of notebook sales with an ASP of $368, and touchscreens accounted for 3 percent of sales with an ASP of $668.

Tablets aside, other strong growth categories included detachable lens cameras, up 16 percent in dollars, and headphones, up 15 percent in units and 33 percent in dollars. Also pointing to strength in the audio market were strong sales of sound bars and streaming-capable speakers, with sales dollars rising in those categories by 47 percent and 276 percent, respectively.

Added Baker: “Even though this holiday’s outlook remains tentative at best, the prospects for next year — when many of these declining categories will have a much smaller impact on the market — looks much more promising.”