Black Friday U.S. Retail Consumer Electronics Sales Decline Nearly 6 Percent, According to NPD

Declines point to industry struggles and weak outlook for rest of holiday season

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 4, 2012 -  U.S. consumer electronics* retail sales for Black Friday** declined 5.6 percent, a steeper than anticipated decline according to leading market research company The NPD Group’s Weekly Tracking Service***.  The drop follows last year’s loss of nearly 4 percent. PCs, Android tablets, and TVs accounted for 58 percent of all sales dollars, up from 51 percent of sales in 2009.

“This slow start is merely a continuation of the challenges seen in the consumer electronics business throughout 2012,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis 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.”

Despite a 4 percent increase in unit volume, flat-panel TV revenue dropped 6 percent as a result of average selling prices (ASP) falling from $367 last year to $333 this year.  A record 40 percent of all flat-panel unit volume came from 32-inch TVs, but with an all-time low ASP of $194 those sales dragged overall revenue down.  Flat-panels 50-inches and above, experienced a unit volume increase of 65 percent.  The real star of that segment, though, was the 60-inch and above flat-panel TVs.  Those sales increased 10 times over 2010 and accounted for 6 percent of all TV unit volume compared to less than 1 percent two years ago.

Notebook PCs continued their year long struggle as units fell 10 percent, with sales of Apple notebooks flat and Windows notebooks down 10 percent.   Windows 8 represented 89 percent of notebook sales with an ASP of $368, and touchscreens accounted for 3 percent of sales with an ASP of $668.

Top 5 Sales Volume Leaders

  2012 Revenue Growth 2012 Unit Growth 2011 ASP 2012 ASP
Flat Panel TVs -6% 4% $367 $333
Notebook PCs -5% -10% $437 $460
MP3 Players -23% -24% $124 $121
Android Tablets 91% 177% $219 $151
Point-and-Shoot Cameras -33% -36% $101 $106

Source: The NPD Group/Weekly Tracking Service

Other strong categories outside the top five volume leaders included detachable lens cameras, which saw revenues grow by 16 percent, and headphones where units increased 15 percent and revenue rose by 33 percent.  Strong sales of sound bars and streaming-capable speakers pointed to the strength in the audio market as sales dollars rose in those categories by 47 percent and 276 percent, respectively.

“The weaker categories, and ones that had once been high-gifting categories, drove down overall revenue,” said Baker. “In addition to the declines seen in point-and-shoot cameras and MP3 players, GPS revenue dropped 40 percent as did camcorder revenue.  Even though this holiday’s outlook remains tentative at best, the prospects for next year, (when many of these declining categories will have a much smaller impact on the market,) looks much more promising.”

*Consumer electronics excludes: Amazon Kindle products, iPad, Surface, mobile phones, and video games.

**Black Friday includes sales from November 18 – November 24 2012.

*** NPD’s weekly POS information is derived from a subset panel of retailers that also contribute to NPD’s projected monthly POS panel.

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