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Consumers Keep Buying Gadgets

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gas prices, tighter credit and the housing slump. But sales of consumer electronics are still going strong. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. That's the assessment of Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association. He says, for now, at least, the industry trade organization is sticking to the forecast it made at the beginning of this year for 2008 sales growth of more than 6 percent....

Strong growth, it's probably stronger than any other industry I'm aware of, except perhaps those who are bankruptcy attorneys. So we are doing well. Consumers still want our products. Obviously with gasoline prices rising so quickly, that's taking a chunk out of consumer spending, but at the same time, consumers are spending more time at home, perhaps, and investing in the products in their home. What's affecting us even more seriously is the housing downturn. To the extent that consumers are not investing in new houses or moving, they are less likely to be buying our products."

The economy isn't slowing down hot product categories such as the new version of the iPhone. And big, flat screen HD TVs are still going strong…

"We have a lot of things going in our favor this year. We could talk about the bad stuff, the economy, gasoline and others. On the good side, this is an Olympics year. Olympics year people buy more television sets. Also, the historic transition to digital television is occurring."

And while most consumers…with cable or satellite boxes….won't need to make any changes because of that…those who get the signals over the air will. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.