According to The NPD Group, 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% over the prior year. During the two-month back-to-school period (July through August), Windows notebook computer sales declined 4% over the prior year, while August 2011 sales, propelled by a late surge in volume, posted an increase of nearly 4%.
"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. The last two weeks of August are the most important period for back to school buying, and those weeks saw more than an 8% increase over last year in retail sales," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD.
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% decline from the same period last year. The drop in ASPs resulted in a record 65% of all notebook sales occurring in products sold for less than $500. Sales in this crucial segment grew 12% versus last year, while sales results for windows notebooks above $500 fell 23%.
"A strong promotional environment led consumers into the stores over the last part of the back to school season. The positive consumer response to aggressive notebook pricing, despite the continued demand for tablet computers, likely points towards a highly promotional holiday season ahead,” said Mr. Baker.