Navigation and notebooks on the Christmas list

Retailers are predicting this year's Christmas season will be a strong one despite the impact of the federal election on recent sales.

Dick Smith general manager, Alvin Ng, said a federal election always presented challenges for retailers as consumers would hold off purchasing decisions. But with voting now out of the way, he predicted the Christmas season would be solid. Ng said the diverse gaming consoles market will be a popular choice.

"Gaming console sales are booming in all of our stores and it's a hot Christmas item, especially with the price rollbacks that suppliers have made. You can get a PlayStation 3 for under $700, and Microsoft Xbox bundles for under $400," he said. "The games coming out are also targeting a broader segment of the market. It's not just shoot 'em up games, but things like Guitar Hero and SingStar."

Another surprising gift of choice was notebooks, Ng said. The sweet spot with consumers was machines priced $1100-$1200, he said.

"With the advent of iPod and digital photo products, people need a computer to store their content. This is combined with the price of notebooks coming down," he said. "In the education space, everybody needs a notebook so I think a lot of parents will also be giving a Christmas present and an education device at the same time."

Bing Lee merchandising manager for AV and IT, Phil Moujaes, predicted GPS navigation system sales to peak over the Christmas season. The recent drop in LCD and plasma TV and monitor pricing was also driving sales of these items up. And despite the federal election, Moujaes said Bing Lee had experienced a steady November. "With Australia's employment at the level it is, we will have a very strong Christmas season," he said.

Retailers agreed more traditional consumer gadgets, such as MP3 players and related accessories, continue to shine.

"MP3 players are no longer a luxury item, but a necessity," Myer corporate affairs spokesperson, Mitch Catlin, said.

Digital cameras, portable DVD players and mobile phones were also stocking fillers, Ng said. At a distribution level, Ingram Micro retail general manager, Gordon Nugent, said sales of its Tom Tom satellite navigation devices were "going through the roof". He also flagged digital photo frames as a popular emerging category. Its 7-inch frames retail for $199.