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NPD: Back-To-School CE Sales Down 13%

Port Washington, N.Y. – Lower average
selling prices contributed to a 12.5 percent decline in back-to-school sales of
CE and IT products, to $7.6 billion, despite a surge in notebook PC

The figures, compiled by market research firm The NPD
through its weekly tracking service, cover the seven-week period from July
26 through Sept. 12.

While notebook computers sold well, hand wipes, sanitizers and tissues were the big sellers during the back to school selling season.

Notebooks were the largest dollar category in
back-to-school CE and IT spending, comprising 21 percent of all revenue.
Nevertheless, notebook revenue was flat with 2008 as the average selling price
(ASP) of the portable computers fell from $804 to $624 year over

Within the category, netbooks were a big draw,
accounting for 14 percent of all notebook units sold for back-to-school, up from
just less than 2 percent of sales last year.

“Notebooks seem to be recession-proof, and this
back-to-school season was no exception,” said Stephen Baker, NPD’s industry
analysis VP. “We are seeing more consumers opt for netbooks and low-cost
notebooks under $500 as viable options despite the changing

Baker noted that low-cost notebooks and netbooks were
heavily promoted this year, and accounted for almost half of all notebook PC
Sunday advertising in July and August, according to NPD’s retail insight

Major declines in ASPs kept nearly all CE categories
from seeing any revenue gains, NPD said, as prices ranged from flat for
multifunction ink-jet printers to down 30 percent for flat-panel

But while falling average prices constrained revenue
growth, they likely helped many categories deliver solid unit volumes despite
the overall weak economy, the research group said.