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Houston Was Hottest Holiday Market For CE: NPD

Houston was the best place in the country to sell consumer electronics products during the fourth quarter of 2008.

According to store-level sales data collected by market research firm The NPD Group, the Lone Star State city was the only designated market area (DMA) of the top 45 to post an increase in sales during the period.

Dollar sales of CE rose 2.3 percent in the Houston area, fueled by purchases of LCD TVs, notebook computers, digital cables, d-SLR cameras and imaging accessories, NPD said.

In contrast, West Palm Beach had the poorest showing, with CE sales plummeting nearly 19 percent over the three months.

“Houston’s success shows that key categories must grow for the consumer technology industry to thrive, and without strong growth in those segments it is very difficult to see overall sales results increase,” said NPD’s industry analysis VP Stephen Baker.

“The dynamics of every market are different, from the number of stores to the demographics of the consumer,” Baker continued. “Add that to the way today’s economy is impacting consumer spending and the need to have the right products promoted the right way to help retailers and manufacturers remain successful becomes even more important.”

Working in favor of CE sales is the number of “must-have” technologies the category encompasses. While the recession has forced consumers to sacrifice expendable indulgences like pricey cosmetics and facials, the short list of “untouchable” services is dominated by CE, a recent survey by BIGresearch showed.

According to the poll, conducted for the National Retail Federation (NRF), an overwhelming majority of shoppers believe that Internet (80.9 percent) and mobile phone service (64.1 percent) are simply off limits. Respondents also said that cable television (60.5 percent) is on their list of untouchables.

“The current economy has forced many Americans to find new ways to live and even shop,” said Susan Reda, executive editor of Stores magazine, an NRF publication. “However, many consumers can’t imagine life without the Internet, text messaging and basic cable.”

Unfortunately for Sirius XM, satellite radio ranked as the second most expendable indulgence (90.9 percent) after luxury handbags.

Top 5 CE Markets, Q4 ’08

Bottom 5 CE Markets, Q408