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NPD: Apple, Best Buy Top 2011 CE Brands

13 Feb, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Tablet computers and mobile phones spearhead 3.4% sales growth among top five consumer electronics categories

Burgeoning sales of tablet mini-computers and ongoing consumer demand for smartphones helped drive consumer electronics sales to $144 billion in 2011, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Sales of tablets and e-readers increased 5.6% compared with 2010 and accounted for 10.7% of all CE spending, while mobile phones rose 0.3% and generated 8.5% of total spending. The two product categories helped generate 3.4% sales growth among the top five CE categories, which include PCs, TVs and video game consoles.

PCs generated 19.3% of total CE spending (down 0.5% from 2010), while TV sales dropped 1.2% to 13.8% and video game hardware declined 0.8% to 5.6% of total sales.

Total spending in dollars on Blu-ray Disc players was down 11%, reflecting ongoing price declines.

“U.S. hardware sales growth is becoming harder and harder to achieve at the broad industry level,” said Stephen Baker, VP of industry analysis at NPD. “Sales outside of the top five categories fell by 8% in 2011 as consumers shifted spending from older technologies to a narrow range of products.”

Apple Inc., for the second year in a row, emerged the top CE brand, generating 36% increase in sales compared with 2010. Driven by the iPad and iPhone, Apple in the fourth quarter alone generated 19% of all sales dollars spent on CE hardware — nearly twice that as runner-up Hewlett-Packard, which saw a 3% decline revenue.

Indeed, among the top five CE brands, Sony and Dell saw sales drops of 21% and 17%, respectively, while Samsung sales declined 6%. Best Buy ranked the No. 1 CE retailer, followed by Walmart and Apple, with Staples and Amazon tied for fourth place.

Sales through online, direct mail and TV shopping channels rose 7% and accounted for 24% of all sales, up from 22% in 2010. Sales through these non-retail channels captured 25% of industry revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011.

“While in-store sales fell about 2.5% in 2011, the growth in online volumes for retailers meant that retail name plates still accounted for well over four of every five dollars spent on CE hardware in the US,” Baker said. “Despite their sales strength, retail stores still face serious challenges in 2012 as volumes in the traditional CE categories, which once carried these stores, continue to slide. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that a large majority of mobile phones and tablets/e-readers (the two fastest growing CE categories) have mostly been driven through in-store experiences.”


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