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Holiday Computer Sales Shining

New York — Computers were at the top of many consumers’ holiday shopping lists as notebook and desktop models scored impressive sales gains according to the research firms NPD Techworld and Current Analysis.

Steve Baker, NPD’s analysis director, said sales “were looking very good. Unit volumes were very strong for both desktops and notebooks, although prices were down a lot. I think November monthlies are going to be huge.”

The top five selling categories, in dollar sales, for Black Friday were digital cameras, notebooks, LCD TV, MP3 players (flash and hard drive) and projection TVs, Baker said. This list points to a dynamic shift in how Black Friday is being used. In the past IT products dominated sales, but now CE took over, he said.

NPD had notebook dollar sales increasing 40 percent over 2004, which is very impressive, Baker said, because 2004 Black Friday sales were up 33 percent from the prior year, setting a very high bar to pass. Average notebook selling prices were $852 down dramatically from two years ago when they were $1,152.

Initial data from Current Analysis drew similar results. Overall computer unit sales increased 35 percent with a corresponding 11 percent increase in revenue. This represents a major improvement compared to Black Friday week sales in 2004, where unit sales of personal computers increased by only 7 percent and revenue decreased by 3 percent.

Notebooks continued to be the best sellers with unit sales jumping 48 percent as of Nov. 26 and revenue climbing 21 percent between Black Friday and Nov. 26. Matt Sargent, Director of Research at Current Analysis, said the bottom priced notebooks generated a great deal of consumer interest, particularly the Toshiba Satellite L25. This unit was mated with a $250 rebate for those willing to sign a 1-year contract with AOL, knocking the computer’s price down to $199.

“What this showed was that people didn’t leave the store when the $199 specials were gone,” Baker said.

Each research firm had desktops performing well. Current Analysis noted a 23 percent rise in unit sales, but revenue declined about 4 percent, compared to the same period last year. NPD’s respective figures were 14 percent and 7 percent and Baker said average prices dropped over $100 to under $500.

Other products doing well so far were LCD monitors, with the 19-inch size categories flying off shelves and satellite radio.