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Drones Soaring At Retail: NPD

Drones are skyrocketing at retail.

Sales of the high-flying devices for the trailing 12 months through April 2016 have soared 224 percent vs. the prior year period, reaching $200 million, according to The NPD Group. The past six months, meanwhile, witnessed sales growth that was four times higher than the same period last year.

Drones with 4K cameras accounted for more than one-third of dollar sales in the 12-month period, NPD said, and drones with built-in GPS accounted for 64 percent of revenue. Drones with an average price greater than $500 accounted for 56 percent of dollar sales in that same time period.

The average drone sold for more than $550 in April, giving drones one of the highest average prices of all categories in technology at retail, NPD said.

“The drone category is continuing to take shape as new products and features such as 4K cameras, Bluetooth and built-in GPS reveal an expanding range of use cases. The market is maturing in that respect,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group. “The continued interest around unmanned aerial systems and an expanding retail footprint point to a strong 2016 and 2017 as a result.”

It was a happy holiday season for the category, with unit sales increasing 445 percent from Holiday 2014, driven by high consumer interest and competitive prices.

NPD said demand was seemingly unaffected by the announcement and implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s registration rule that requires owners of drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to register their products before flying them outdoors. From the announcement in October to the implementation in December, dollar sales at least doubled month over month, NPD noted.

“It’s not surprising that drones were highly sought after during last year’s holiday season,” said Arnold. “But even after the holidays, NPD’s consumer research indicates drone purchase expectations remain high, especially among younger consumers. This points to continued growth and healthy demand for the category.”