By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: Portable consumer electronics products as well as personal care and novelty small appliances once again proved to be the most popular products sold in the lead up to Christmas gifts for the second consecutive year.

Several retailers reported the predicted strong sales of the new portable video gaming console PlayStation Portable while all retailers reported strong sales of MP3 players, particularly the ubiquitous Apple iPod. Good sales were also reported across high ticket items such as air conditioning as well as plasma and LCD televisions.

"The standout category by a long shot was MP3 players,” said Bing Lee general manager, Phil Moujeas.

“Apple is still the hero, but their competitors are getting their act together – in fact we had more sales in other brands. I think Samsung have done a very good job and LG sold well despite only having one or two products. The Sony MP3 product did alright," Moujeas said.

"Plasma and LCD were both strong around Christmas – with the average sell price between $3,500 and $4,000, which is higher than other stores that were selling plasma as low as $1,699. Digital imaging is still strong even though it has not been as strong as over the last three or four years. Portable technology such as notebooks were popular. There is definitely a trend towards portable or mobile products,” Moujeas said.

Bing Lee also sold novelty small appliances priced under $50 sold in high volumes.

One Sydney-based Harvey Norman salesperson said the Sony PSP outsold all other products during December, proving there is still life left in the handheld gaming market ahead of the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox console next month.
“The PSP easily sold the most this Christmas, it went nuts. But as a brand, Ipod outsold the PSP two to one across the entire product range,” the salesperson said.

The HoMedics back massager, which has consistently led the GfK personal care value statistics in recent months, also sold well over Christmas.

“The entire range of HoMedics range of back massagers went really well, particularly SBM-300 shiatsu massaging cushion. People seemed happy to spend up for a good product,” the Harvey Norman salesperson said.

Bronwyn Hackett from Betta Electrical Minchinbury echoed the reports from her Sydney based competitors.

“The iPods and MP3 players went well of course, all the kids wanted them for Christmas. With the hot summer we’ve had people who really wanted air-conditioning – that went well over Christmas. Overall it was a pretty average Christmas although the final days went really well,” she said.