Consumer technology sales fall almost 4% in 2008

Consumer technology revenue declined 4 percent in 2008 to $112.3 billion, nearly erasing a 4.

Consumer technology revenue declined 4 percent in 2008 to $112.3 billion, nearly erasing a 4.5 percent gain in 2007, according to The NPD Group, a market research company.

Notebook PCs and LCD TVs were the two largest sales categories in 2008.  Notebook PCs generated $20.2 billion, but LCD TV sales weren't far behind with sales of $19.9 billion, an increase of 37 percent from the year before. Desktop PCs, inkjet printer cartridges and MP3 players rounded out the top 5.

With sales online and in-store, Best Buy again grabbed the most consumer technology dollars that consumers spent in 2008.  Walmart remained in second place. Dell came in third and the now defunct Circuit City's combined sales put it in the number four spot. Interestingly, Apple made a move into the top 5, just edging out Staples.

Hewlett-Packard took the top spot among the OEMs, with second place being a virtual tie between Apple, Sony, and Dell. Samsung came in fifth.

Dell's move into retail in 2008 had an impact on non-retail sales. Non-retail sales increased 6 percent, but dropped 6 percent in 2008 if you account for Dell.

With less overhead, online-only retailers had a good year, growing 37 percent to $4.8 billion. Retailer Web site sales were also up, gaining almost 3 percent in revenue to $ 7.6 billion. Retail brick and mortar sales declined 3 percent to $83 billion.

"Despite a decline in sales and the upheaval in growth, pricing, and distribution which occurred in 2008, the consumer technology industry has strong reasons to be optimistic in 2009," said, Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD.  "We've already seen signs that people haven't given up on consumer technology. The speed with which Circuit City's liquidation occurred shows that when offered great bargains on electronics consumers are willing to allocate their precious dollars towards these products over many others."

Consumer technology includes IT, imaging, audio, video, and consumables, and excludes video game hardware and software, PC software and mobile phones.

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