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Changing Seasons

Maybe it was the longer-than-normal baseball season here in New York, but seemingly in a twinkle of an eye several things have happened. We are back to Eastern Standard Time, weather forecasters are talking about wind-chill factors again, Halloween has come and gone, and we are less than two months away from Christmas, as well as two months away from opening day of International CES in January.

For consumer electronics retailers, many hope that while the seasons are changing the trends that are driving their businesses are not. According to a report on holiday purchase patterns released by the Consumer Electronics Association (see next week’s issue) digital products of all stripes should be high on shopping lists between now and the end of the year. DVD players, digital cameras, CD recorders, wireless phones and mass storage devices are all expected to be top holiday gift items.

In addition, during the holiday shopping season nearly seven in 10 adults are at least somewhat likely to visit a consumer electronics retailer, according to the survey. That should bode well for CE retailers, even though gasoline prices and home heating costs will continue to rise, while profits from stock market trading has cooled down considerably.

Our retail expert, senior editor Alan Wolf, spoke to executives from leading retailers (TWICE, Oct. 23, p. 1) and the consensus is that sales of CE and related products will not be damaged by higher energy prices or lower stock profits. For all concerned, let’s hope so, but the situation warrants close attention.

As for what will be hot at CES, it is still too early to say. Few have shown their cards but as previously reported in TWICE, digital home networking will make its presence felt in January, probably with several HAVi-enabled products making their debut. Of course there will be more talk about DVD recorders and HDTVs, with maybe some new products being shown.

Will the talk be converted into meaningful sales by the end of 2001? Previous experience says no, but if consumer electronics business is anything, it is full of surprises.

TWICE will be tracking holiday sales and the probable CES product introductions during the next two months. Read our print edition and website closely. Again, if experience is any guide, we are probably in for several twists and turns along the way.

P.S. to CES exhibitors: Heed the information below about submitting new product information for our coverage of the show.