Back-to-school notebook PC sales beat expectations

Sales of notebook computers during the back-to-school rush this year beat expectations, new data from market research firm NPD Group found. While sales of Windows laptops continued to slide compared to last year, the decline was significantly less severe than in the first half of the year according to NPD. Windows notebook sales between July and August dipped 4% compared to the same period in 2010, while sales in the first half of 2011 were down 12% year-over-year. “The sequential results from NPD’s back-to-school point-of-sale (POS) data indicates that after a shortfall early in the year that was mostly related to the difficult comparisons to the binge of buying after the release of Windows 7, the Windows notebook market remains solid,” said NPD vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker in a statement. “The last two weeks of August are the most important period for back to school buying, and those weeks saw more than an 8 percent increase over last year in retail sales.” NPD’s full press release follows below.

Back-to-School Notebook Sales Exceed Expectations: Windows Notebook Sales Increase in August

Strong sales over the last two weeks of August 2011 ensure that back-to-school sales show positive trends when compared to the first half of the year.

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., September 14, 2011 – According to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, back-to-school sales turned out much better than the first half of 2011, when retail notebook sales in the U.S. declined more than 12 percent over the prior year. During the two-month back-to-school period (July through August), Windows notebook computer sales declined 4 percent over the prior year, while August 2011 sales, propelled by a late surge in volume, posted an increase of nearly 4 percent.

“The sequential results from NPD’s back-to-school point-of-sale (POS) data indicates that after a shortfall early in the year that was mostly related to the difficult comparisons to the binge of buying after the release of Windows 7, the Windows notebook market remains solid,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD. “The last two weeks of August are the most important period for back to school buying, and those weeks saw more than an 8 percent increase over last year in retail sales.”

A prime driver of the sales volume increase was a drop in average selling prices. During July and August 2011, ASPs for Windows notebooks were $477, which is a 7 percent decline from the same period last year. The drop in ASPs resulted in a record 65 percent of all notebook sales occurring in products sold for less than $500. Sales in this crucial segment grew 12 percent versus last year, while sales results for windows notebooks above $500 fell 23 percent.

“A strong promotional environment led consumers into the stores over the last part of the back to school season,” Baker said. “The positive consumer response to aggressive notebook pricing, despite the continued demand for tablet computers, likely points towards a highly promotional holiday season ahead.”

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