U.S. computer sales for the 10-week back-to-school period (June 30th, 2013 ? September 7, 2013) declined by 2.5 percent from 2012, according to data released by the NPD Group.
Notebook and desktop sales both slipped, off nearly 2 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The average price of a computer also declined from $709 in 2012 to $671 this year. Overall, though, computer sales did slightly better than expected thanks to some new momentum in the market.
Chromebooks, which didn't exist in 2012, added almost 175,000 units to the market this year and provided all the growth in the challenged notebook market; entry-level Windows notebooks (under $300) increased 14 percent, and Windows touch notebooks accounted for 25 percent of Windows notebook sales.
Macbook sales fell more than 3 percent as the average selling price plummeted from $1445 to $1286. Windows notebooks $300-$700, the highest volume segment of the Windows notebook market, were also the largest drag on the results posting unit declines of 16 percent and accounting for 64 percent of all Windows notebooks sold. Overall, Windows notebook volume was down more than 6 percent with average prices remaining flat at $478.
"Chromebooks and Windows Touch helped offset what could have been much steeper declines this back-to-school season," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "While these results are better than the almost 4 percent decline from the first half of the year, any declines in the crucial back-to-school period leave reason to be concerned for the upcoming holiday season."
Windows touch notebooks represented a quarter of back-to-school sales, propelled by huge price drops. More than 33 percent of all touchscreen notebooks sold were priced under $500 which dropped touch-enabled notebook ASPs to $646 from $715 in the first half of the year. Sales of Windows notebooks $700+ increased by 24 percent thanks to touchscreens and accounted for 14 percent of all back-to-school Windows notebook purchases.
"After a slow start following the launch of Windows 8 last year, touchscreen notebooks saw significant and accelerating momentum during back-to-school," said Baker. "The rapid roll-out of under $500 devices put touch much more aggressively in front of the key back-to-school consumer and created incremental demand. Even though the category has taken off, no one brand was able to exploit this new demand, with almost all the major consumer brands reaping sales benefits from increased exposure to touch."