US consumer electronics sales set to fall this year

US consumer electronics sales will fall this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The fall will only be -0.6 per cent and can be considered statistically ‘flat’. But this will remain a down year, only the fifth since 1974.

Gary Shapiro, the CEA’s chairman and CEO, added that 2008 sales are set to fall just shy of his association’s original prediction of +6 per cent, at +5.4 per cent.

“2010 should be a year of recovery, and we hope and expect to return to positive industry growth,” he added, during a CES keynote.

Shapiro looked to highlight some short-term positives. For example, although price pressure will push sales backwards, unit volumes should rise for many products.

Americans will, Shapiro said, purchase one billion CE products during 2009 and his industry will continue to contribute $1tr to the US economy.

Given Shapiro’s repeated advocacy of free-trade agreements, perhaps the most significant part of his keynote was directed towards the administration of President-elect Barack Obama. Shapiro pushed for greater availability of H1B and other visas that would attract “the brightest and the best” to the US and for the government to finally sign off on outstanding international free trade agreements.

The CEA has published its latest forecast for those products that will buck the downturn with the greatest unit volume growth during 2009. It is led by LCD TVs with refresh rates of 120MHz and above, and by e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle.

This forecast excluded the PC market and therefore did not include the netbook sub-category. The CEA says this could achieve growth in the 2,000 per cent region.

Top 10 CE productions in 2009 by unit growth

Product/per cent growth

  1. LCD TVs with 120MHz+ refresh rate    810
  2. E-readers    265
  3. Plasma TV with 1080p resolution    215
  4. HD flash camcorders    190
  5. Digital cameras with 10MPi+ resolution    146
  6. Digital cameras with 8-9MPi resolution    134
  7. Next generation DVD    118
  8. Portable navigation systems (traffic compatible)    110
  9. Intercom modules    102
  10. LCD TVs with screens of 50in and above    92

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