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NPD Presents Mixed Holiday Sales View At RetailVision

Denver – The 2006 holiday selling season received a mixed prognosis from The NPD Group with sales of HD video, flat panel TV and computer accessories expected to be strong while satellite radio and MP3 players fall far short of last year’s totals, during a presentation today at Fall RetailVision.

Steve Baker, NPD’s industry analysis VP, was very upbeat on HD DVD and Blu-ray products, anticipating retailers will sell out of these two items despite their initial high sticker price. This will set the stage for these two products to explode in 2007, he said.

Plasma TVs should also be a hot ticket item this fall, Baker said, and LCD should pick up steam as it becomes more price-competitive with plasma. However the forecast for rear projection was not strong, except in very large screen sizes. Flat panel models are simply pulling customers away from rear projection, Baker said.

While Baker anticipates a mixed bag when it comes to IT products, the two areas that should be on most shopping lists are external storage drives and accessories of all types. He was less positive about networking and printing. Networking is facing the biggest crisis suffering from what Baker called a “bad standards” situation with the on-going development of 802.11n and the fact that most people are content with their 802.11g/a solutions.

CE/IT convergence products will not have a major impact this year, he said, citing that consumers are still not ready for them and that the infrastructure needed to make the best use of these devices is still building out.

Baker also thought digital cameras would do well, along with car navigation and high-definition camcorders.

Although Baker said MP3 sales would not hit last year’s totals, he predicted holiday shoppers will still spend a hefty amount on this category. He added that if Apple manages to produce another killer product this year then the segment could perform even better.

Desktop and notebook computers will continue to split the computing category with the former continuing to suffer price erosion and sliding unit sales. Notebooks, the star of the back to school season, should continue to be popular, although price erosion here has also hurt. Baker said average selling prices during the summer were half of those posted during the same period in 2004.