'Tis the Season: Consumer Electronics Poised for Good Holiday Sales?
NEW YORK – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has high hopes that gadget lovers will open their wallets this holiday shopping season. The trade organization pointed to recent survey data yesterday at an event previewing its annual trade show, held in January in Las Vegas, that suggests this holiday season will see a post-recession rebound in sales.
Based on a survey of about 1,000 adults, total holiday spending per person is expected to come in at $1,412 this year — up three percent from last year. That is still well below 2007's $1,671 level, which then dropped precipitously in 2008 during the depths of the recession.
Yet the percentage of respondents' annual splurging specifically for consumer electronic gifts has grown from 22 percent ($194) in 2007 to an anticipated 31 percent this year ($232).
Other outlooks from non-industry-backed groups such as the CEA are less rosy — NPD Group has forecast a 1.3 percent drop in retail electronic sales this season, attributing the predicted slump to a still-limping economy.
In with the new
On an adult consumer electronics holiday gift "wish list," these devices rang in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, showing that they are "really striking a chord with consumers," said Steve Koenig, director of industry analytics at CEA.
Tops on wish lists this year — as in years past — are notebooks and laptop computers. Teens' No. 1 choice is portable music players, and video game consoles and accessories are also likely to be top sellers, according to the survey data gathered by CEA.
Early, often and not sold separately
Trend-wise, CEA market research experts noted that the bundling of devices – two televisions sold at a discount together, for example, or a total home computer "makeover" with multiple new replacement models – has proven popular amongst consumers and should hold steady as the year wraps up.
Event-driven sales have also been on the rise. So-called Cyber Monday – which takes place right after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – has also been a bright spot for tech, and Walmart is now extending this into a "Cyber Week," offering deals on consumer electronics.
The best known instance of such an event is "Black Friday ," which by tradition falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but is now being invoked for sales at different times of the year, CEA's representatives said. (Sears, for example, had a two-day Black Friday event on Oct 29 and 30.)
Black Friday, of course, is frequently an orgy of capitalism nationwide (and increasingly internationally as well) marked by "doorbuster" bargains in many consumer goods sectors, but this day is particularly lucrative for tech sales.
Fueled by holiday shopping sprees, new products such as 3-D TVs often see half of their annual sales volume take place in the last three months of the year, said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for CEA.
This "50 percent rule" held true for Blu-Ray players last year, a hot new product then. And with a number of new or bolstered product categories this year – tablet computers, for example – the CEA representatives think that this holiday season is indeed shaping up to be a good one.