Gadgets less popular than pants, says CEA

Queues like this are just a memory for many retailers
Queues like this are just a memory for many retailers

The US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) today warned against expecting gadgets to drive a recovery in consumer confidence.

The trade association has just crunched the numbers from last week's Black Friday and this week's Cyber Monday sales, and the news isn't great.

Despite over half the people shopping last weekend purchasing some item of consumer electronics (only just less than the most popular purchase: clothing), CEA has revised its sales forecast for electronics sharply downward.

Flat as a pancake. But not as tasty.

Instead of Christmas sales seeing a 3.5 per cent boost over the same period last year, CEA now envisages a meagre 0.1 per cent increase.

Some sectors are doing worse still. CEA thinks that computer purchases will decline by 2 per cent and while mobile phones will see a modest increase, CEA believes that many consumers are holding off upgrading their handset while times are hard.

CEA says that some of the the slump is due to holiday shoppers opting for smaller, less expensive TVs and other products purchased at discount retailers.

"The severity and the speed of declines in these unprecedented times caught everyone off guard," said Jason Oxman, CEA's Senior Vice President. "Consumer sentiment is improving, but shopper unease this holiday season is creating challenges for all sectors of the economy, including consumer electronics."

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.