Up and Down In January

Although broadcasters still have until 2006 to implement DTV, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is reporting that manufacturer-to-dealer sales of digital television (DTV) products continued to beat past year performance. For the latest figures, DTV products are defined to include integrated sets and monitors displaying active vertical scanning lines of at least 480p and, in the case of integrated sets, receiving and decoding ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions.

According to the CEA stats, during the first month of 2002, unit sales to dealers of DTV products totaled 149,291, with dollar sales totaling $266.8 million. These figures represent an increase of 83% for unit sales and a 67% increase for dollar sales, compared to the same period in 2001, says the group.

While DTV products may be hot, total sales of video products for the first month of 2002 signaled what may be a brief leveling off of category sales to dealers. The CEA's Sean Wargo says, "During the 2001 holiday season, total orders and purchases of video products from retailers exceeded those of the previous year. However, the frenzy of purchases came somewhat late in the season, so we saw things cool off in January while retailers adjusted the remaining inventory of product."

The numbers reveal that DVD unit sales were down so far this year by 5.1%. The CEA comments, "The tremendous growth in 2001 and the apparent holding pattern of 2002 indicate the product is reaching true maturity. The DVD player now is a consumer electronics staple in 25% of American households."

While September 2001 through December 2001 saw DVD sales surpass those of VCRs, last month VCRs regained the lead by a hair, although unit sales still were down 25.4% compared to the same period in 2001. "Generally, the price points of VCRs and the critical recording function of the units continue to appeal to consumers," says the CEA.