PCs, Camcorders Lead Flat Thanksgiving Week Sales: NPD

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Port Washington, N.Y. - Computers and camcorders were the top-selling consumer electronics products during the week of Black Friday, and were also among the period's most heavily promoted categories.

Total CE volume was down 1.2 percent for the week to just over $2.7 billion, but ahead of last year's 3.4 percent decline.

According to point-of-sale data collected by The NPD Group, computers led the CE pack with a 63 percent surge in unit volume from Nov. 22-28, followed by camcorders (up 55 percent), Blu-ray Disc players (up 53 percent) and computer hard drives (up 33 percent).

Unit sales of flat-panel TVs increased 15 percent Thanksgiving week, tying GPS devices, while volume for point-and-shoot cameras and multifunction printers were flat year over year.

Computer sales were spurred by new form factors, the launch of Windows 7 and new pricing lows, NPD said. Indeed, price points for notebook computers fell 26 percent to an average of $500, a decline of $160 from 2008 when retails fell 8 percent, the market research firm reported.

Similarly, prices fell an average of 33 percent for camcorders, compared with 7 percent in 2008, although price drops on GPS eased from last year's 22 percent decline to 14 percent this year.

The promotions, though relatively rational, nevertheless took a toll on revenue. Despite the 15 percent surge in flat-panel unit sales, dollar volume fell 9 percent as the average selling price of flat-panel TVs dropped more than 20 percent to $535, on top of a $200 decline in 2008.

"Consumers came out this year because there were deals to be had - the same reason they have been shopping for electronics all year," said NPD industry analysis VP Stephen Baker. "What made Black Friday different this year is how aggressive those price cuts were. This year retailers and manufacturers knew it wasn't going to be about increasing revenue; it needed to be about getting consumers excited to shop and moving those products out of the stores."


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