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Holiday Sales For CE Were Down 1%: NPD Report

Retail sales of consumer electronics declined 0.8 percent to $10.8 billion during the five-week holiday period of Nov. 22 through Dec. 26, The NPD Group reported, compared with a 6 percent decline in 2008.

The holiday tally was dragged down by TV, which rose 16 percent in unit sales but fell 12 percent in dollar volume as the average selling price (ASP) of a flat-panel set sank 25 percent to $525. The revenue decline was the steepest of all the CE categories included in NPD’s point-of-sale data.

In contrast, notebook computers saw the greatest revenue growth with dollar volume up 30 percent, as a 68 percent surge in unit sales offset a 23 percent decline in ASPs.

Other revenue growth leaders included desktop PCs (up 27 percent) and d-SLR cameras (up 16 percent), while Blu-ray Disc players and camcorders were among the top categories in unit-volume growth, with gains of 44 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

BD players also experienced the great price declines of all categories tracked, as ASPs fell 34 percent to $151.

“Just cutting prices this year was not enough to guarantee successful sales results,” said NPD industry analysis VP Stephen Baker. “Flat-panel TVs had a disappointing holiday because there wasn’t enough price-cutting on the right items, while notebook PCs and camcorders offered new form factors and price points that drove enormous increases in units and revenue despite falling prices.”

On a weekly basis, sales growth peaked the week ending Dec. 5, which included the Sunday of Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday. Sales for the week grew 3.7 percent but accounted for only 15 percent of total holiday revenue. In contrast, the final week of the season, ending Dec. 26, was essentially flat year-over-year with 0.3 percent growth, but accounted for 22 percent of total holiday sales.

“The dynamics of the holiday season changed this year; the holiday season started before Black Friday as retailers ran Black Friday-like sales throughout November,” Baker observed. “That move may have lessened the Black Friday hype for consumers, but the increase during the final week of the season is a sign that consumers either went back out or waited it out to get the best deal.”

The sales results, based on NPD’s Weekly Tracking Service, exclude video game products, mobile phones and sell-through at Wal-Mart.