Consumer retail PC sales grew almost 3 percent during the 10 week back-to-school period (the week of July 4th through Labor Day week) after declining by 2.5 percent in the previous year, according to IT research firm the NPD Group.
Apple and Chrome OS led the sales drive with Chrome OS unit sales increasing 37 percent over 2013 and Mac OS-based products up 14 percent.
Meanwhile Windows devices declined 3 percent, and overall, sales of notebooks were up 3.4 percent in units and desktop sales were flat, year-over-year.
"Best Buy and Walmart remain the dominant Windows PC retailers in the U.S. and we don’t see much changing in that regard," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD, told eWEEK. "We believe the consumer market has been better than it has been given credit for during most of 2014, so we see this as a continuation of a stable environment."
Apple notebooks were one of the star performers this year with sales up 16 percent over the last back-to-school period, with the most significant increase over the last three weeks of the period growing 27 percent.
Baker said demand and lower prices are driving higher sales of Apple computers, as Apple’s prices fell by about 4 percent this back-to-school season and with their most recent price changes they have significantly more product available for less than $1,000 than they have had previously.
"These factors continue to deliver strong growth for them in an otherwise flat PC environment," he explained.
Chromebook sales were up 32 percent in 2014 and accounted for more than 5 percent of notebook sales, and 18 percent of all sales of notebooks under $300.
Despite the rise of online shopping options, Baker said actually consumers are buying more in stores.
"Lower prices in stores and a lack of a real compelling need for most consumers to custom build a PC--online’s most compelling advantage--are driving consumers into retail stores to do the bulk of their purchasing," Baker said.
Windows desktop towers continued their success during this year’s back-to-school season with a 2 percent unit increase, a significant improvement over 2013’s 12 percent decline.
Microsoft and its partners are focused on aggressive entry-level price points and unique form factors, such as 2-in-One products, to maintain their current market position, he noted.
Entry-level Windows Notebooks priced under $300 increased by 37 percent as prices dropped from $271 to $242, and 2-in-One Windows devices accounted for 13 percent of Windows sales as volume increased 6 times over 2013.
Baker said the figures indicate a decent sales holiday but one characterized by much more aggressive price competition than the market has seen in past years.