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Summertime Activities Bode Well For Portable CE Sales

Frisbees and sunscreen aren’t the only items finding their way into consumers’ weekend luggage. More and more Americans are packing wireless and personal CE products when venturing into the great outdoors this spring and summer, according to a recent national survey by Best Buy.

Eighty percent of those surveyed plan to take portable devices with them when they go outside to play. Of those, 60 percent said they use wireless phones, 42 percent use digital cameras or camcorders, 36 percent use portable CD players and more than 15 percent will bring handheld video games.

Which CE products will Americans use to complement their summertime activities?

  • Roadtripping scored high among Americans’ plans for the warmer months, and one out of three people surveyed said they use electronics products the most while on the road, including satellite radios, wireless phones and PDAs. Of the latter, Forrester Research reports that 9 million North American households currently own PDAs and 2.5 million are expected to become new owners in 2002.

Within the digital music arena, the 18-to-24 demographic accounts for 48 percent of satellite radio users and 28 percent of MP3 portable users.

A separate study by Forrester found that 75 percent of Americans plan to travel by car for vacations this year, and 15 percent more people plan to travel this year than last, according to the Travel Industry Association.

  • Camping, or “roughing it,” is not what it used to be. American campsites and hiking trails are now teeming with wireless technology. According to the Best Buy survey, 20 percent of people use technology the most while camping and hiking in the woods. When asked what one technology they would take with them if they were roughing it in a remote location for two weeks, 60 percent said wireless phones and 16 percent said GPS.
  • Digital cameras and camcorders are increasingly used to record sporting events, a favorite summer pastime. According to the Best Buy survey, 42 percent of respondents now bring digital imaging products to the game, a 20 percent increase over the 26 percent who said they did so in 2001.

In addition to vacations, Father’s Day and school graduation celebrations represent additional opportunities for CE sales. According to the International Mass Retail Association (IMRA), 18 percent of people surveyed between May 24-26 said they planned on buying their fathers entertainment products such as CDs, DVDs or videos, and 6 percent said they would buy technology products such as DVD players or digital cameras. The average amount respondents said they planned to spend on Dad was $113.80, while about one in six, or 16 percent, were planning to spend more than $200.

CE specialty chain Tweeter Home Entertainment group recently conducted its own internal study of Father’s Day and graduation gift giving plans, and predicted a high level of sales activity for DVD players, Panasonic’s e-wear line, Sony mini-disc players, digital camcorders, plasma and LCD TVs, and satellite radio.

“Father’s Day and graduation season are typically a popular time for the consumer electronics industry,” said Anne-Marie Boucher, director of brand communication for Tweeter. “This ‘Dads and Grads’ season we are predicting a strong focus on digital gifts.”