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NPD: U.S. holiday electronics sales fall 5.9 pct

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Market analysis firm NPD reports that total consumer technology sales for the 2011 holiday season were down 5.9 percent compared to 2010, accounting for some $9.5 billion in revenue for the five weeks ending December 24. NPD notes that 2011 broke with recent patterns in that sales of both TVs and PCs were relatively flat compared to 2010, rather than losing ground as they had in previous years. However, there’s a bit of a caveat to NPD’s numbers: they exclude mobile phones, ereaders, video games, and tablets. The numbers would seem to confirm recent reports that the popularity of smartphones is cutting into sales of devices like GPS receivers, MP3 players, camcorders, and point-and-shoot cameras.

“2011 was the first year in quite awhile where the real drags on the core CE marketplace were not TVs and PCs,” said NPD VP of industry analysis Stephen Baker, in a statement. “The accelerated rate of decline in older technology categories such as DVD, GPS, and MP3 players put a ceiling on how well the industry could perform during the holiday.”

Amongst PCs, NPD found notebook sales declined 5 percent year-over-year, while desktop PCs ironically posted a 2 percent gain compared to 2010—Windows-based all-in-one PCs accounted for almost 20 percent of Windows desktop PC sales volume. NPD also found the sales of televisions with screens larger than 50 inches increased by 32 percent—roughly one in six flat-panel televisions sold during the 2011 holiday season had screens 50 inches or larger, while sales of 32-inch TVs (the market’s largest single size segment) saw its revenue drop by almost 9 percent as average sale prices dropped under $300.

However, other device segments did not fare as well. Sales of MP3 player and point-and-shoot cameras were down 20.5 and 20.8 percent respectively, while sales of hard disks, GPS units, digital picture frames and camcorders tumbled even more precipitously, down 25.1, 32.6, 37.5 and a whopping 42.5 percent, respectively. NPD found sales of multi-function printers were down 9.9 percent compared to last year, and sales of Blu-ray players dropped 17 percent.

“It was truly a mixed bag this year,” said Baker. “Many newer technologies posted strong gains, although most of those products, such as streaming devices, still generate volumes too small to impact the overall market trend.”