NPD Expects 18% Increase in Winter Holiday CE Sales

In a year where consumer electronics and home technology have played a key role for house-bound families due to the coronavirus pandemic, new data from The NPD Group suggests fourth-quarter CE sales will increase 18% compared with the same period in 2019.

The second quarter of 2020 saw healthy gains in categories associated with learning and working from home, as consumers across the U.S. outfitted their home offices with the equipment needed to maintain productivity. Gains in home entertainment categories were notable as well, as consumers looked for ways to fill time while at home for an extended period. High growth categories included: notebook computers (+45%), tablets (37%), monitors (+84%), printers (+59%), and keyboards and mice (62%).

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“Sales of items we need to get through the school or workday took priority in the first half of this year, but as we head into Q4 and the holidays we expect many of these ‘needs’ will have been satisfied and consumers will begin to purchase items they consider to be ‘wants’ or gifts for the holiday season, such as TVs and noise-canceling headphones,” Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst, for The NPD Group, said in a statement.

Arnold said that while the typical Q4 shopping list won’t differ much from previous years, how consumers buy will, due to ongoing concerns regarding social distancing. According to NPD Checkout data, in Q2 e-commerce represented 69% of consumer technology sales, up from 48% during the same time last year, and that number is expected to remain above 60% moving forward. Additionally, buying online and picking up in-store accounted for about 25% of online tech sales in Q2, as consumers shifted to new ways of purchasing accelerated by COVID-19.

“Black Friday lines won’t disappear, but we expect lines of consumers waiting for store openings will be replaced by long queues of cars eagerly waiting for [online] purchases to be placed in their vehicle,” said Stephen Baker, VP, industry advisor for The NPD Group. “As we head into Q4 and into 2021, we’re forecasting technology sales will remain strong as the pandemic has renewed recognition of the critical value of technology in the modern lifestyle, sped-up product upgrade cycles and created larger installed bases that will benefit the industry moving forward.”

NPD: Online Video Consumption, Engagement Leapt in Q2

Free, transactional and subscription video all grew significantly in the second quarter versus the same period in 2019, according to NPD Group data.

The market experienced “growth across just about every way you can consume video,” said NPD’s John Buffone during the online OTT.X summit Sept. 1. (The summit continues today; to register click here.)

Transactional VOD alone jumped by 57%, while subscription VOD grew 42%, Buffone reported.

Sales of TVs and streaming players (“largely driven by Roku”) also grew by double digits during stay-at-home orders, he said, while sales of DVD and Blu-ray players also saw a jump in sales “for a while.”

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The most frequently used services in April 2020 (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, CBS All Access, Amazon Prime Video) are gaining the most ground, NPD research found. Among that group, 87% of Netflix subs said they use the service at least weekly, with 80% saying the same of Hulu, 70% of Disney+, 68% of CBS All Access and 64% of Amazon Prime. During April, 48% of Netflix subscribers said they were using it more often, compared to 57% of Disney+ subs, 42% of Hulu subs, 40% of CBS All Access subs and 39% of Amazon Prime subs.

A third of SVOD users said that exclusive content made them subscribe or watch more because content was not available any other way, he noted.

NPD: Weekly Consumer Tech Sales Up 34%

With increasing numbers of consumers spending time in the home due to the coronavirus pandemic, sales of consumer technology continues to boom.

New data from The NPD Group found record results continue in the consumer tech market with sales over $2.2 billion during the first week of August (the week ending Aug. 8), a 34% increase compared with the same week a year ago. Revenue during the month of July increased 18% over last year, even without the Prime Day shopping holiday.

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Return to school across all grades may be limited to in-home education and limited social gathering, but sales of productivity focused technology products have picked back up with PCs fueling much of the growth.

Notebook PC revenue growth in the U.S. was up 64% compared to same week last year. Beyond PCs, dollar sales of PC headsets (+127%), monitors (+97%) and routers (+87%) all increased as preparations for distance learning drove sales of a slightly altered set of products for back to school.

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Stephen Baker, VP and technology industry advisor at The NPD Group, said CE categories tied to home office solutions, organization, and school saw double- and triple-digit dollar sales increases at retail.

“Although [work from home] growth is beginning to level off,” Baker said in a media interview last month.

NPD: July Video Game Sales Increased 32%

Spurred by pending next-generation consoles and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, consumer video game spending in July increased 32% to 3.58 billion, from $2.71 billion during the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group. Year-to-date video game revenue is up 21% to $26.05 billion, from $21.52 billion a year ago.

Consumer spending on game content increased 34% to $3.25 billion, from $2.42 billion, with digital spending up 41%. Console sales dipped 2% to $166 million, from $169.4 million a year ago. Nintendo Switch again topped hardware sales. Console sales are up 22% to $1.8 billion from $1.47 billion last year.

Accessory sales (gamepads, headsets, headphones, etc.) spiked a record 34% to $170 million, from $126.8 million. Accessories sales were up 24% to a record $1.3 billion, from $1.05 billion a year ago.

NPD: Video Game Q2 Spending Hits Record High

Spurred by home-bound consumers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, video game sales of new titles, hardware and accessories during the second quarter (ended June 30) hit an all-time period high of more than $11.6 billion, which was up 30% from revenue of $8.92 billion, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Console sales, which include Nintendo Switch, increased 57% to $848 million from $540 million during the previous-year period. Accessory sales, which include gamepads, headsets, steering wheels and related items) increased 50% to $584 million, from $389 million.

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Software sales, which include physical, digital, PC content, mobile and subscription, increased 28% for the quarter to $10.2 billion, from $7.98 billion, with broad gains (including physical content, digital, mobile and subscription).

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NPD: June Video Game Sales Jumped 26%

The video game industry’s torrid sales streaks in April and May slowed a bit in June, reaching $1.2 billion, which was still up 26% from $952 million in sales in June 2019, according to new data from The NPD Group. Through the mid-year point, game sales top $6.6 billion — the highest tally since the same time period in 2010 — and up 19% from $5.54 billion in 2019.

After a three month surge, console sales dropped 17% to $191 million from $230 million last year as gamers await next edition units from Sony and Microsoft this winter. Through the half-year, hardware revenue is up 25% to $1.6 billion from $1.28 billion last year. Nintendo Switch again led all platforms in unit and dollar sales.

Sales of game accessories and game cards jumped 29% to $417 million from  $323 million last year. The top-selling accessory was the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. Year-to-date accessory sales are up 15% to $2 billion from $1.74 billion.

Finally, software sales skyrocketed 49% to $570 million from $382.5 million — driven in part by the launch of Sony’s The Last of Us: Part II. NPD game analyst Mat Piscatella, in a post on Twitter, said Sony’s release topped Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

NPD: May Video Game Sales Skyrocket 52% as Pandemic Spurs Consumption

Pandemic-driven housebound consumers love to play video games. New data from The NPD Group found that total sales of hardware, software and accessories increased 52% to $997 million, compared with $643 million in the previous-year period. It was the third-consecutive month of growth following nearly two years of steady declines.

Year-to-date sales are up 18% to $5.5 billion from 2019, and the best five-month period since 2011. Hardware sales shot up 56% to $235 million, while accessories and game cards revenue increased 32% to $304 million. Software sales burgeoned 67% to $438 million.

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“This is the highest tracked spend for a May month since the $1.2 billion achieved in May 2008,” analyst Mat Piscatella wrote in a Tweet.

Nintendo Switch again led all hardware manufacturer with unit sales the best for an individual platform in May since sales of the Nintendo DS in 2009, according to NPD. Accessories/game cards sales increased 32% and are up 12% for the year. The best-selling accessory was the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller.

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NPD: First Quarter PC Sales Up 16%, Reaching $2.4 Billion

As the spread of the coronavirus grew, forcing more people to work from home in the first quarter (ended March 31), demand for PC computers and related gear ballooned.

New data from The NPD Group found PC sales in the period increased 16% to $2.4 billion. Further reinforcing the need for additional hardware as more people telecommuted, landline headset sales grew 50.9% and stereo headphones sales skyrocketed 65.4% compared with the prior year.

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“As everyone’s jobs and schedules have been flipped upside-down, procuring additional hardware to set-up suitable work-from-home and distance learning environments became a priority, driving additional demand in the channel,” Mike Crosby, director and B2B technology industry analyst at The NPD Group, said in a statement.

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According to the report, storage and data protection software sales grew 12.5%, while security software sales grew 5.3%, representing nearly a quarter of the sales in the software market during this time.

“With more points of entry, an organization’s network becomes increasingly vulnerable to [cyber] attacks by shoring up additional security and data protection software, businesses are hoping to ensure the same levels of protection they experienced while working in-office,” Crosby said.

NPD: April Video Game Disc Sales Up 8%

Sales of packaged-media video games for consoles and hand-held devices reportedly topped $251 million in the four-week April retail period, ended May 2, an increase of 8% from $232.4 million during the previous-year period.

The uptick in software sales was largely driven by stay-at-home gamers buying content on the Internet due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shuttering most retailers, including GameStop.

The two top sellers in April were Nintendo’s March release Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Switch and Square Enix’s new release Final Fantasy VII Remake, exclusively for PlayStation 4. Another popular title, NBA 2K20 from Take-Two Entertainment has reportedly sold more than 12 million units since launching on Sept. 6, 2019 — up 33% from the previous title, NBA 2K19.

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“We believe that robust Internet spending was largely offset by store closures and curbside service across much of the country, with room left over for year-over-year retail growth in April following a breakout March performance,” Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, wrote in a May 22 note.

Pachter, who disclosed the NPD data, revealed that about 411,000 PS4 consoles were sold in April, exceeding his estimate of 235,000 units. Consumers bought 329,000 Xbox One units, topping the analyst’s 175,000 unit estimate.

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The popular Nintendo Switch device continues to lead the market with 808,000 units sold — double Pachter’s 400,000 unit estimate.

“The Switch’s status as a must-have item among many stay-at-home consumers drove a terrific April figure that would have been meaningfully higher if not for widespread sellouts throughout the month,” Pachter wrote. “The Switch led industry unit sales for the 17th consecutive month.”

Sony and Microsoft plan to launch new-generation PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles, respectively, this fall/winter.

Video Game Industry Posts Record Q1 Revenue

The long-running video game sales slump is over. Gamers in the first quarter (ended March 31) spent a record $10.86 billion on hardware, software and accessories, according to new data from The NPD Group. That’s up 9% from $996 million in the previous-year period.

After months (if not a year or so) languishing, the games market got a boost when national and local governments mandated at-home quarantine measures to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. With millions of people limited to home entertainment, video game use/consumption spiked.

Software sales across all physical formats and digital increased 11% to $9.58 billion, from $8.63 billion last year. Ongoing strong sales of Nintendo Switch upped hardware sales 2% to $773 million, from $758 million.

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Top-selling titles in the quarter included Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Doom Eternal, and Grand Theft Auto V, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Fortnite, Minecraft, MLB The Show 20 and NBA 2K20.

“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in a vlog post. “As people have stayed at home more, they’ve utilized gaming not only as a diversion and an escape, but also as a means of staying connected with family and friends.”