July US retail sales lowest since Oct. 2006 - NPD

Stat-tracking firm reports dour results as total revenues slip 26 percent to $707.7 million last month; NCAA Football leads software, Xbox 360 tops consoles.

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Global financial markets may be fluctuating wildly of late, and if one thing can be said for US game industry retail sales, it's that they've at least been consistent. That is to say, they've been consistently down. Today, the NPD Group issued its monthly US retail sales report, revealing total revenue that fell a precipitous 26 percent year-over-year to $707.7 million.

It may not be a bull market, but NCAA Football 12 is still doing well.
It may not be a bull market, but NCAA Football 12 is still doing well.

Total US retail sales of new games, accessories, and hardware was a particularly sore spot for the industry, as sales fell 20 percent to $687 million. According to NPD analyst Anita Frazier, those results signify the lowest revenue for sales in the new physical retail channel since October 2006.

"Despite the very rough month, new physical retail sales are down just 4 percent year-to-date and based on seasonality trends observed over the last 10 years, which have been remarkably stable year-in, year-out, industry sales in this particular channel are poised to land in the flat to -2 percent range once the total year is completed," Frazier said.

Further parsing the numbers, new hardware sales fell 29 percent to $223 million. Though NPD did not officially announce unit sales figures, Microsoft claimed victory for the month with its own announcement.

The Xbox 360 sold 277,000 units in July, according to Microsoft, with the company going on to note that its hardware has been the best-selling hardware in the US for 13 of the past 14 months. However, even that victory lap was somewhat doleful, in that Xbox 360 sales were down year-over-year.

"This was the first month that the Xbox 360 saw a year-over-year decline since December 2009," said Frazier. "This is more of a reflection of robust sales last July, which was the biggest month for unit sales of the 360 in 2010 outside the holiday months (November and December). Last year's sales of the 360 hardware platform were driven by the introduction of the Kinect-ready slim form factor SKU."

In its own statement following NPD's report, Sony touted only that PlayStation peripheral sales rose 18 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, Nintendo also omitted mention of its platforms in response to NPD's figures, though it did call out the performance of Ubisoft's Wii-exclusive Just Dance 2. The game sold 122,000 units during the month, according to Nintendo, making it the eighth title to sell more than 5 million units on the Wii in the US.

New US retail software sales for consoles, handhelds, and PCs slipped 30 percent during July to $356.9 million. Leading the month was EA Sports' NCAA Football 2012. Cars 2, which debuted on NPD's chart in June in the ninth position, shot up to second in July, and it was followed by Activision Blizzard's stalwart shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops.

JULY 2011 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $707.7 million (-26%)
Total non-PC retail sales: $687 million (-20%)
Non-PC hardware: $223 million (-29%)
Non-PC software: $336.2 million (-17%)
Accessories: $127.8 million (-8%)
Total software: $356.9 million (-30%)

TOP 10 GAMES FOR JULY 2011
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. NCAA Football 2012 (360, PS3) - Electronic Arts
2. Cars 2 (DS, Wii, 360, PS3, PC) - Disney Interactive Studios
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, NDS, Wii, PC) - Activision Blizzard
4. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Wii, NDS, 360, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC) - Disney Interactive Studios
5. Just Dance 2 (Wii) - Ubisoft
6. Major League Baseball 2K11 (360, Wii, NDS, PS3, PS2, PSP, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
7. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Wii, 360, PS3) - Majesco
8. Fallout: New Vegas (360, PS3, PC) - Bethesda Softworks
9. New Super Mario Bros. DS (DS) - Nintendo
10. Mortal Kombat 2011 (360, PS3) - Warner Bros. Interactive

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