CEA Sees Happy Holidays

The 2004 winter holiday season could prove a jolly one for electronics manufacturers, according to the Holiday Sales and Forecasts report issued by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in mid-October.

The trade organization is projecting a 5% rise in factory-to-dealer shipments for the September-to-November period, when manufacturers deliver orders to retailers for the winter holiday buying season, November through January - typically the most profitable period of the year for most retailers.

A random telephone survey taken by CEA researchers in early October revealed that 25% of adult consumers surveyed plan to spend more than they did in 2003. The most desirable electronic items include plasma TVs, digital cameras, large-screen TVs (27" or bigger), digital camcorders, DVD players, DVD recorders, HDTV, portable DVD players, and LCD TVs. Of those surveyed, 76% said they will buy electronic items as gifts this year, compared to last year's 71%. Approximately 81% said they would buy gift certificates, which are often redeemed by the recipients in January, making that month the "second largest" for retailers, according to CEA spokesman Sean Wargo.

So far this year, shipments in the audio/video category are up 6.9 in units and 11.8% in dollar value, the organization announced. The CEA is projecting that for the year, total factory-to-dealer shipments should reach $108.8 billion, compared to the $100.7 billion achieved in 2003, for an 8% gain. On December 31, the US electronics industry will have surpassed $100 billion in goods shipped two years in a row.

Helping reach that number is the continuing decline of prices for flat-panel televisions. Prices for both plasma displays (PDPs) and LCD TVs have dropped about 20% since last January, according to statistics published November 3 by the Wall Street Journal. Sales of flat-panels are expected to double this year to about 5% of all TVs sold worldwide.