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PCs, Tablets, Headphones, Accessories Push Positive Holiday Sales

Categories delivery $1.3 B, $9.5 B for year

January 6, 2014

The top five U.S. CE categories by revenue - desktops and notebook PCs, TVs, tablets, and headphones - collectively delivered $1.3 billion more in additional industry revenue this holiday season than they did four years ago, according to The NPD Group's Weekly Tracking Service. Revenue for these categories was almost $9.5 billion in 2013, up 3.7 percent on top of last year's 1 percent increase. Each of these categories also delivered at least a flat unit volume performance versus 2012 led by the 45 percent unit increase in tablet sales.

"This was a unique calendar year; with Thanksgiving coming so late, the importance of the early selling season was amplified," said Stephen Baker, vice president, industry analysis, The NPD Group. "It is not a coincidence that four of these product groups were among the most highly promoted products during Black Friday and Cyber Week promotions."

Sales were especially strong during the first three weeks of the 2013 holiday season. Thanks to a strong Thanksgiving week, and positive sales momentum during Cyber Monday week, revenue reached nearly $10.5 billion, an increase of 6.6 percent versus the same time period in 2012.  Additionally, the U.S. experienced the strongest pre-holiday sales in two years, with early November sales increasing 5.6 percent over 2012.

TVs remained the largest revenue category and had a surprisingly strong holiday season, up 4 percent in units after close to a full year of monthly unit volume declines. Despite the highly-promotional early holiday season, overall TV average selling prices (ASPs) declined by less in 2013 than in any of the previous three years, bolstered by a 55 percent increase in unit sales of TVs 60 inches and larger.

Consumers purchased 11 million tablets this holiday season, up 45 percent from 2012, but revenue only increased 7 percent.  Sales of 7-inch tablets increased by nearly 2.5 million units and accounted for 38 percent of all sales, with an ASP of $102.

According to NPD, notebook PC sales were expected to experience unit and dollar declines, but they were actually flat compared with 2012. Strong unit volumes in both Macbooks (up 13 percent) and Chromebooks (up 112 percent) offset weakness in Windows devices (down 6 percent). Windows notebook ASPs, however, increased $5 this year, buoyed by touchscreen notebooks, which accounted for 38 percent of sales volumes with a nearly 10 percent price premium.

Revenue outside the top five categories fell 4.3% on top of an over 9% decline in 2012.  Despite this decline a number of secondary categories had strong revenue growth and breakout sales volumes in 2013.


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