This Holiday, It's Raining Electronics. Or Is It?

by , Dec 5, 2012, 4:04 PM
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No one is hoping that record numbers of shoppers (both cyber and otherwise) will translate into record holiday sales more than the stores that sell consumer electronics. The category, after all, is a perennial keister-saver for retailers, and this year’s shower of new tablets, smartphones and e-readers makes it especially promising. 

But a new report from NPD Group, a market research company based in Port Washington, N.Y., isn’t so promising -- at least on the more traditional end. Sales in consumer electronics -- which admittedly excludes such hot items as Amazon Kindle products, iPad, Surface, mobile phones, and video games -- slipped 5.6% on Black Friday, it says. “This slow start is merely a continuation of the challenges seen in the consumer electronics business throughout 2012,” writes Stephen Baker, a VP at NPD. “In an unbalanced market, where just a few categories deliver significant dollars, and even fewer offer any growth, the ability to deliver positive results will remain difficult for companies exposed to the entire consumer electronics marketplace.”

NPD says the slip follows last year’s loss of nearly 4%. “Android tablets and TVs accounted for 58% of all sales dollars, up from 51% of sales in 2009.” While unit sales for flat-panel TVs gained 4%, revenue fell 6%, with 32-inch TVs going for an average of just $194 each. GPS, point-and-shoot cameras and MP3 player sales all fell. The company says sales of detachable-lens cameras (with revenues up 16%) and headphones (up 33%) were among the highlights. 

Meanwhile, other indicators are more promising, with Chase Holiday Pulse reporting that in the week following Thanksgiving, consumer electronic sales gained 32% year-over-year. 

And the Consumer Electronics Association is far more bullish. “Thanksgiving weekend was one of the busiest ever, and tech was one of the big winners,” spokesman Steve Kidera tells Marketing Daily in an email.  “Behind clothes, tech was the second most popular purchase of the weekend. As our holiday sales and forecast predicted, TVs, tablets, smartphones and laptops are the most popular gifts, not just within electronics but overall, this holiday.”

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