Port Washington, N.Y. - Retail sales of consumer electronics were flat in November, although it was also the first month of the year without any declines.
Revenue was up slightly to more than $7.1 billion dollars, The NPD Group reported, compared with a 14 percent decline in November 2008.
The report, based on point-of-sale data and consumer surveys, excludes video game products and mobile phones.
Sales volume was fueled by early Black Friday promotions, strong performance in core product categories like notebook computers, and from what NPD described as "surprising improvements" in camcorders, desktop PCs and wireless home networking.
Growth in those areas helped offset continued revenue weakness in high-volume segments, such as digital cameras, MP3 players and flat-panel TVs, where average selling prices (ASPs) have contracted dramatically.
Nevertheless, some categories, including desktop PCs and d-SLR cameras, were able to buck the trend and deliver strong ASPs and positive revenue growth, NPD said.
d-SLRs led the November dollar surge, with a 44 percent increase in revenue and a 7 percent hike in ASPs year over year.
In contrast, flat-panel TV revenue fell 7 percent and ASPs declined 22 percent.
As a result, the average selling price of a d-SLR ($812) was higher than that of a flat-panel TV ($585) in November.
Still, TVs and netbooks together accounted for about 40 percent of CE revenue last month.
Although NPD industry analyst VP Stephen Baker is projecting a decline in total CE sales for 2009, he found some heartening signs in November's numbers.
"Where November differed was the appearance of new categories starting to show positive trends," he wrote in a blog at
. "Wireless networking equipment showed its strongest positive revenue growth month of the year, digital-SLR cameras were positive for the third month in a row after months of declining revenue, and multifunction printers, as well as single-function laser printers, showed positive revenue trends. Both home-theater systems and stereo receivers were [either] flat or positive in November as were camcorders, mice and desktop PCs."
Baker said that such a "restoration of balance is essential if 2010 is to see a renewal of industry growth."