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NPD Group reports dip in consumer technology retail sales over Black Friday


PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. The economic crunch and overall changes to the consumer technology industry resulted in the first ever decline in U.S. retail sales of consumer technology during the week of Black Friday but the decline wasn’t exactly unexpected, according to The NPD Group.

According to the market research firm, U.S. consumer technology (which includes IT, imaging, audio, video and consumables) bricks-and-mortar sales experienced the first ever decline during the week of Black Friday. Revenue was down more than 8 percent from Nov. 23 to 29 to $2.03 billion compared with the year-ago period, according to NPD’s weekly tracking service.

However, NPD noted that the decline didn’t come as a surprise. Changes have recently swept through the consumer technology retail landscape, such as Tweeter shutting its doors and Circuit City filing for bankruptcy.

Furthermore, a greater emphasis on e-commerce and less exciting product selection also played into weaker sales.

Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, suggests this may mark the beginning of a change in the overall concept of Black Friday. “This year, there were no blowout sales to attract consumers. Instead of being a kick off year to the holiday season, the deals mimicked a typical weekend sale, not what consumers have been used to in prior years. As consumers’ shopping options grow, Black Friday may become less of a barometer for the holiday shopping season and more of a showcase of retailers’ holiday intentions,” he said.

NPD did note that there were some bright spots for the industry. Notebook PC unit growth increased nearly 19 percent and revenue was up 8 percent. LCD TVs above 30 inches grew 18 percent in units and 9 percent in dollars. There were several other categories that experienced unit growth, such as GPS, plasma TVs and digital picture frames, but saw declines in revenue due to aggressive declines in average selling prices versus last year, which did not generate sufficient unit demand.

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