By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
December 9, 2011

PC sales were down 8% Thanksgiving week, but demand for the MacBook Air was strong

In a note to clients Thursday, Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty rattled off several reasons to explain why retail sales of personal computers in the U.S. were down 8% year over year for the week of Nov. 20 to 26, as reported by the NPD Group.

  • Hard drive shortages, the lingering effects of flooding in Thailand
  • Price reductions in the two weeks before Thanksgiving, which encouraged early buying and cut into Black Friday sales
  • Tablet cannibalization, especially from Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Apple’s (AAPL) iPad

“But,” Huberty concludes, “we believe the biggest factor is simply weaker end demand.┬áThe data so far in November suggest a steady sequential deceleration.”

There was, Huberty writes, one exception to that rule:

Apple was a relative bright spot during the week of Thanksgiving. Unit growth rebounded to 17% Y/Y from 7% in the prior week and 10% in the prior four weeks.

The MacBook Air, which uses solid state drives instead of those harder-to-get hard drives, now accounts for 30% of Apple’s notebook sales, according to NPD.

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