CEA Stats Shed Light on Q4, Black Friday, 2010

CEA Stats Shed Light on Q4, Black Friday, 2010


The Consumer Electronics Association’s latest CE retail projections point to a better 2010 preceded by a holiday sales season – already under way in the major retailers – populated by Black Friday deals that go beyond leader models to include products like Internet-enabled TVs.

“July should mark the bottom of the recession,” projected the CEA’s chief economist and director of research, Shawn DuBravac, at the organization’s yearly pre-CES statistical presentation Nov. 10, “but it will be a slow, mediocre recovery. With respect to the new economy, the new ‘up’ is ‘flat.’”  The stats were offered as followup to data released in late October (see our report of 10/20/09).

DuBravac observed that “Black Friday has begun – and begun early,” noting Sears, Kmart and Walmart efforts that are already jumping the gun on the day-after-Thanksgiving sales frenzy.  He also cited “the emergence of a dichotomy of product offerings, with some feature-rich devices entering into the mix,” pointing to an overhead projection showing a 46-inch Internet-enabled TV advertised at $1,309.  He said to expect product bundling by retailers “in abundance” as a technique during the holidays designed to achieve a “higher ticket ring,” and including product groupings like Blu-ray players with flat-panel TVs and laptop accessories with netbook products.

DuBravac said that Q4 unit sales volume, down 6.3 percent last year, would be up six percent by the close of 2009 – but cautioned that ‘the new [consumer] frugality is here to stay.”  “More boxes will go out the door,” said Steve Koenig, CEA director of industry analysis,  “but there will potentially be a lot less revenue” due to declining ASPs (average selling prices).

Mass merchants, said Koenig, will eclipse electronics stores as the place to buy CE gear for the first time this year, with 67 percent of purchases happening there, 60 percent in electronics stores and 41 percent – more CE buys than ever – transacted online.

Sixty-seven percent of sales associates polled by the CEA offered that they thought people would not want to spend as much on CE this year as last, and 60 percent said less people were coming into stores. “Traffic has been a struggle, but close rates are up” among consumers who make it through the door, said DuBravac.

The pair highlighted several key tech trends they said would emerge strongly at the 2010 CES. These include:

• “Beyond HD” TV experiences, including interactive and 3D;

• The continuing evolution and introduction of content-distribution models;

• Increases in varieties of products with screen sizes in the underserved five-inch-to-15-inch range – an area currently occupied by e-books (seven to 10 inches) and netbooks (10 to 12 inches); and

• More efforts at product customization and personalization, with apps “omnipresent” and pervading a host of CE categories including PCs, printers and GPS/navigation systems.