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Blu-ray Players Shine In Down Holiday CE Season

5 Jan, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blu-ray Disc players emerged a champion following a winter holiday shopping season that saw retail sales of consumer electronics decline 5% — despite a strong post-Thanksgiving Black Friday.

The NPD Group said Blu-ray player unit sales increased 27% during the nine-week holiday period compared to the same period last year. Blu-ray drives in PCs increased by double digits as well.

The success of wireless connected Blu-ray players through Christmas was foreshowed by strong unit sales on the Black Friday weekend, which saw a record 50% unit volume increase, including sales of 400,000 players.

“It was a boom time for Blu-ray players,” said Stephen Baker, VP of industry analysis with Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD.

Overall holiday CE holiday sales totaled $14.9 billion, down 4% from last year. Online holidays CE sales, which also included Blu-ray players, increased more than 21% and represented the third-highest-growing segment behind computer hardware and books and magazine, according to comScore.

Televisions showed some life during the holidays with total flat-panel TV unit sales rising more than 5%, while revenue was off by 2%. Large-screen Plasma unit sales increased 32%, while revenue declined 8%, as average prices fell almost 15% to $728. The 32-inch LCD, last year’s hot product, was not nearly as popular in 2010, with unit volume dipping 2%, versus 2009. The 46-47-inch flat-panel TV segment was the fastest growing for the holiday, increasing 31% in unit volume. Sales of TVs larger than 50 inches also showed strong growth with volume jumping 21%, propelled in part by new technologies such as 3D, Internet connectivity and LED backlighting.

“With retailers and manufacturers focused on price maintenance, tech consumers ignored early season promotions, and instead keyed in on the traditionally price-aggressive deals offered during Black Friday and the week before Christmas,” Baker said. “As a result, sales for the first three weeks of November and the first three weeks of December were significantly weaker than the traditional bookmark shopping periods.”

Also noteworthy, NPD estimated that tablet cannibalization brought on by the popularity of the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy approached nearly 15%, which affected the sale of nearly 1 million PCs during the holiday season.

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