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U.S. Consumer Tech Sales Down by $4 Billion Since 2010

February 19, 2013

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The U.S. consumer technology industry for the second year in a row logged a slight decline in sales during 2012, but fourth quarter totals showed some signs of improvement, according to new data from the NPD Group.

Overall, consumer tech retail sales fell 2 percent to nearly $143 billion in 2012, following the less than 1 percent drop in 2011, the research firm said. Since 2010, consumer technology sales have declined by $4 billion.

"While sales fell in consumer technology for the second consecutive year, there was an uptick in [the fourth quarter] which is cause for optimism," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, said in a statement. "After struggles with declining categories, and increasingly saturated markets over the last few years, fourth quarter's results may be the first sign that even as a mature industry, consumer technology can grow again."

NPD Tech Sales

Together, the top five categories — notebooks, flat-panel TVs, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers — made up 53 percent of sales in 2012, up from 49 percent in 2011. Tablets and smartphones were the only two of the top five categories to show growth. Meanwhile, the rate of revenue decline for notebooks and desktops accelerated compared to 2011 as "tablet sales started to erode the computer marketplace," NPD said.

The top five consumer tech brands of the year were: Apple, Samsung, HP, Sony, and Dell. These companies accounted for 45 percent of sales, up from 42 percent in 2011. As for where people shopped, the top retailers in 2012 were Best Buy, Walmart, Apple, Amazon, and Staples.

"While CE remains a dynamic industry the fact is that the stellar growth of the past few years has made growth today more difficult," Baker said. "Most market segments have high penetration rates and the demand for additional devices is slowing, or declining."

NPD tech sales



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