Electronics industry optimistic over holidays


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Some predict the holiday season will be the beginning of a turnaround for electronic retailers. So why the optimism and what's expected to attract consumers?

The television screens may be getting bigger, but the ones leaving the store shelves seem to be smaller.

"We're seeing bigger sales in the smaller screen sizes and that is 32 inch rather than the 52 inch. Again I think that's a reflection of the economy," said Jim Barry from the Consumer Electronics Association.

Overall sales in consumer electronics are expected to be down eight percent for the year -- that's the biggest drop since the 1970's. But there is optimism that's about to change soon.

"A good example is last year we hired approximately 20,000 people. This year we hired about 25,000 people," said Brian Dobbie from Best Buy.

The industry predicts consumers will spend an average of $222 this holiday season on consumer electronics. That's eight percent more than last year and those dollars should stretch further as retailers discount items to bring in more customers.

"The prices are terrific and the value is there," said Barry.

Electronic readers which can store hundreds of books are among the new innovations attracting buyers.

"Last year, we bought about a half million of these which was more than twice as many as the year before. And this year we expect we'll buy more than a million of them so sales will more than double this year," said Dobbie.

Netbook computers are the latest in the notebook category. The Sony Vaio Netbook weighs 2.5 pounds and comes with bluetooth, WiFi and a web cam. It sells for $500.

The latest netbook from MSI has 15 hours of battery life and sells for $500 and netbooks start at under $250.

Another small item that could be a big seller is a pocket projector.

"You can project up to 60 inches on any surface. You can take an iPod that has a little screen, hook it up to a projector and you can actually show a huge image on a screen," said Dobbie.

It sells for $230.

Also catching on are gaming devices and even television sets that connect with the Internet.

Among the big ticket items are the ultra thin LED technology TVs. They are as narrow as a half an inch and boast a brighter picture.

The Consumer Electronics Association predicts clothes will be the big seller this Christmas, but computers and video games will rank number two and three.

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