Market research firm The NPD Group said retail consumer electronics sales slipped 2 percent in September, allaying fears of significant declines for the electronics industry.
In comparison, CE revenue fell 1 percent in September 2007.
Last month's dip in dollar volume followed a 2 percent gain in August, when back-to-school shopping and federal rebate checks helped stir sales.
Flat-panel TVs were the biggest gainers in September, up 10 percent in dollars and 20 percent in units. D-SLR cameras were a close second in revenue growth, up 9.5 percent, followed by notebook computers, which increased 9 percent in dollars and 12 percent in units.
"The industry struggled a little this month. It's to be expected when the economy is slowing, but the consumers who can spend will continue to," said Stephen Baker, NPD's industry analysis VP. "These key categories are continuing to perform, and tellingly, these growth segments are delivering faster unit growth than dollar growth while still maintaining average selling prices of $800 to $900.
"Growth is slowing," Baker noted, "but in a year with few new products to drive excitement, these high-priced staples of the technology industry continue to be in demand."
CE sales are expected to outpace overall retail revenue growth during the fourth quarter. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), a trade association, retail sales are only projected to increase 1.7 percent year over year during the November to December period.
"This year's holiday season spending will be more modest compared with recent years as the financial and economic crisis weighs on consumers' willingness and ability to spend," said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC's chief economist/research director. "Not surprisingly, big-ticket purchases are likely to take a backseat to more traditional, basic and value-oriented goods and services," he added.
Niemira believes that the 2008 holiday season will be challenging for many retailers, but relatively good for discounters and wholesalers as consumers focus on basic and value.