Santa wasn’t so keen on gadgets after all. Despite strong sales early on in the season, NPD reports that sales of consumer electronics fell 7% in the holiday season, to $13.7 billion. (NPD excludes some of the industry’s hottest segments, including Kindle, iPads and Surface, as well as mobile phones.)
It’s the third year in a row that sales became slower as the season wore on, says Stephen Baker, VP/industry analyst for the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm -- with 46% of purchases occurring in the first two weeks of the shopping season, the highest share in the past four years.
Especially noteworthy, he tells Marketing Daily, is “the decline in a lot of the secondary categories, such as MP3 players and point-and-shoot cameras, which seemed to accelerate.”
He also says that sales of TVs “were a little bit weaker than expected. While there is an awful lot going on in the smaller big screens, in the 32-to-39-inch range, the 40- to-50-inch segment was very weak as consumers either traded down for better pricing, or made the decision to trade up since there were an awful lot of good deals in the 50-to-60-inch range.” Unit sales of the mid-range size declined 29%, compared with gains of 46% in the larger size.
Windows 8 did not help notebook sales, which dropped 11% in units.
While they did decline, sales of both notebook computers and flat-panel TVs exceeded $2 billion; no other single segment accounted for over $1 billion in revenue.
One significant change this season, he says, is that tablets radically expanded their distribution footprint in the same way that non-electronics retailers once rushed to sell camcorders and digital cameras: “These non-electronics retailers can drive a lot of traffic, and generate a lot of dollars.”