The most popular gift-giving item of the 2004 holiday season enjoyed strong sales throughout 2004, according to year-end digital camera sales figures released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
CEA Market Research reported that factory-to-dealer dollar sales of digital cameras in 2004 totaled more than U.S. $4.7 billion -- an increase of 21 percent compared to dollar sales in 2003. Unit sales growth were even stronger, as the total for 2004 hit 18.85 million units, an increase of 28 percent compared to unit sales in 2003.
CEA Market Research shows that consumers also increasingly turned to higher resolution digital cameras. Digital cameras with five or more megapixel resolutions sold more than 7 million units, an increase of 176 percent compared to 2003. Digital cameras with four megapixel resolutions were also extremely popular and totaled more than 3.78 million units, an increase of 141 percent from the previous year.
"Digital cameras are one of the most popular CE items on the market today -- not just for gift-giving, but for general purchase, as well," said CEA's Senior Manager of Industry Analysis Steve Koenig. "One trend, in particular, we are noting is that more consumers are interested in higher megapixel cameras. We expect that trend will continue in 2005 as the price-per-megapixel continues to decline, attracting more mainstream buyers. In 2005 we'll also see more repeat buyers, as consumers either upgrade to a higher megapixel camera or add a camera to their household."
Electronics stores continue to be the most popular place for consumers to purchase their digital cameras, but other outlets such as mass merchants also saw increased sales in 2004. All retailers likely are enjoying the fact that higher priced models of digital cameras are becoming more popular. Digital cameras that cost between $500 and $599 sold more than 1.7 million units in 2004, an increase of 876 percent from 2003.
"Cameras priced at more than $700 experienced strong growth this past year, which reflects the popularity of the many new digital single lens reflex (SLR) and SLR-style cameras that have been introduced into the consumer marketplace," Mr. Koenig said. "The SLR's added features and functionality are attractive to photography buffs and 35-mm fans and we're seeing that in the sales numbers. Unit sales in this price-range totaled more than 1.1 million units, which is an increase of 68 percent compared to sales in 2003."
According to CEA, 20.16 million digital cameras will be sold in 2005, totaling more than $5.14 billion. The growth is forecast to continue over the next several years, with 24.3 million units expected in 2008.
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