This is the year consumer technology holiday sales went flat.
U.S. spending on gadgets was $4.5 billion from Nov. 18 to Dec. 9, according to research firm NPD, half a percent less than in the comparable period last year. Sales figures for the rest of the shopping season were not available.
Digital cameras topped the list of popular consumer electronics products, but sales did not grow over last year. According to NPD, camera unit sales were up less than 1 percent, while in dollar terms sales were down 13 percent because the cameras were less expensive. MP3 player sales were flat.
The sales plateau hit by both gadgets is the result of a saturated market, said Stephen Baker, an NPD analyst. The typical consumer is already on his or her third digital camera and probably owns a digital music player too, he said.
Tim Bajarin, president of Silicon Valley research firm Creative Strategies, said the lackluster tech sales, like holiday sales across the board, were probably the result of consumer anxiety about the economy.
“It’s just indicative of cautiousness of the consumer market overall due to uncertainty,” he said. “Because of the mortgage crisis, I think people were more restrained and didn’t go overboard with their spending.”