updated 03:40 pm EST, Fri November 25, 2011
NPD says convergence, economy hurting holiday 2011
Holiday sales may be the worst since 2008 through a combination of the economy and technology, NPD Group VP Stephen Baker said Friday. Along with anxiousness over the economy, categories that were once key to sales, such as dedicated cameras, GPS units, and MP3 players were all expected to face "significant" declines. Although not directly stated, all of the categories were those covered by smartphones, reducing the need to buy separate devices.
Researchers implied that poor competition with the iPad was also playing a role. Leading tablets like the iPad weren't getting steep price cuts, and competing models weren't expected to sell regardless, leaving little incentive to drop prices regardless. Those that have been getting steep cuts were getting them out of poor sales across the board, not because of concerns over Black Friday sales.
"The alternatives [to leading tablets] are not perceived to be of sufficient customer interest to be worth the expense of Black Friday pricing and promotion," Baker said, implying mostly non-iPad hardware.
He saw some upside to retailers starting to reduce their dependence on one-day, in-store deals and moving either to earlier in the week or to midnight openings that stagger out the store traffic. Online shopping still wasn't at the point where it would overtake physical stores.
A lack of special discounts on Android or BlackBerry tablets for Black Friday or other campaigns could see Apple cement its command of the tablet arena. With a discontinued tablet leading non-iPads in sales, the gap may get larger if competitors aren't seen as viable options. Apple itself was discounting the iPad on Friday and may see a spike that keeps it out in front.