U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales Robust in 2011, Reaching $144 Billion: NPD

U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales Robust in 2011, Reaching $144 Billion: NPD


Port Washington, NY—U.S. consumer technology hardware and consumable sales ended 2011 at nearly $144 billion, reports The NPD Group, which represents a decline of just one-half of a percent from 2010.

According to the market research firm, almost 60% of all CE sales in 2011 were driven by five categories: PCs, TVs, tablets/e-readers, mobile phones, and video game hardware. The figures were obtained from NPD’s Retail and Consumer tracking services and Mobile Phone Track.

PCs (notebooks and desktops) generated nearly 20% of total sales, at almost $28 billion. However, PC sales did see a decline of 3% from 2010. Tablets/e-readers were the top dogs last year, nearly doubling sales to $15 billion.

“U.S. hardware sales growth is becoming harder and harder to achieve at the broad industry level,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “Sales outside of the top five categories fell by 8% in 2011 as consumers shifted spending from older technologies to a narrow range of products.”

Brands that benefited from this shift were led by Apple, which was the leading consumer electronics brand for the second year in a row. Among the top five brands Apple was the only one to experience a sales increase, posting a 36% increase over the previous year. By the fourth quarter Apple accounted for 19% of all sales, almost twice as much as number two Hewlett-Packard.

As for CE retailers, Best Buy led the pack again in 2010, followed by Walmart and Apple. Staples and Amazon tied for fourth place to round out the top five, just as they did last year.

                               Top 5 U.S. Brands Based on 2011 Revenue
  Brand                                   Sales Growth/Decline                                   
  Apple                                   36%
  Hewlett-Packard                    -3%
  Samsung                              -6%
  Sony                                    -21%
  Dell                                     -17%     
Source: The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service, Retail Tracking Service, and Mobile Phone Track

Online, direct mail and TV shopping channel sales rose 7%, making up 24% of all sales and an increase from 22% the previous year.

“While in-store sales fell about 2.5% in 2011, the growth in online volumes for retailers meant that retail nameplates still accounted for well over four of every five dollars spent on CE hardware in the U.S.,” said Baker. “Despite their sales strength, retail stores still face serious challenges in 2012 as volumes in the traditional CE categories, which once carried these stores, continue to slide. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that a large majority of mobile phones and tablets/e-readers (the two fastest growing CE categories) have mostly been driven through in-store experiences.” npd.com