Summer Sales Drop; Hope for “Stabilized” Holiday Outlook

Summer Sales Drop; Hope for “Stabilized” Holiday Outlook


Consumer electronics sales dropped 3.4% during July and August compared to the same months last year, according to an analysis by SpendingPulse, an information service of MasterCard Advisors

Although the fall off is far less than in other categories, such as apparel (down 8.5%) and furniture (off 18.6%, fueled by the housing crash), the drop in CE sales is at a pace far greater than the 0.6% sales decline that the Consumer Electronics Association predicted for this year in its January 2009 forecast, issued at the January CES.

SpendingPulse estimates that overall CE sales during the two summer months were down about $660 million from the previous year.  The study focused on back-to-school categories.

As for the upcoming holiday shopping season, the latest Harris Interactive survey, conducted on behalf of ING Direct, found that 54% of U.S. adults now plan to spend at least $300 on holiday gifts this year; that compares to 60% who said they typically spend $300 or more when Harris Interactive polled in November 2008.   In the new survey, 34% said they’ll spend less than $300 for holiday gifts this year.   Several other recent studies, including one from Kelton Research, confirmed the tighter spending plans.

Separately – but in related outlooks – at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) electronics trade show in Berlin this past week, "stabilization" was an oft-repeated term as executives eyed the global financial situation. Andrea Ragnetti, CEO of Philips Consumer Lifestyle business, refrained his company’s expectation that consumer confidence remains at low levels.

"Overall, it remains relatively low, but we expect at least stabilisation, which could come … earlier than anticipated," Ragnetti said.

Fujio Nishida, president of Sony Europe, characterized economic recovery in western Europe as a year away; eastern Europe may take even longer because of the continuing growth of unemployment.

"We have not seen the bottom yet in the western part of Europe," Nishida said.