US consumer electronic sales are being propelled by strong growth in tablet computers. ©ventdusud/shutterstock.com

(WASHINGTON-AFP) – US consumer electronic sales are expected to top $200 billion for the first time this year, propelled by strong growth in tablet computers, an industry group said Tuesday.

The semiannual forecast released by the Consumer Electronics Association showed an estimated 5.9 percent growth in US sales this year, two points higher than previously projected in January.

The forecast said industry sales will surpass $206 billion this year, the first time revenues in the United States are expected to top the $200 billion mark.

Sales growth is projected to continue into 2013, when industry revenues will likely grow 4.5 percent to $215.8 billion, the group said.

The industry “is offering what consumers want during these uncertain economic times: innovation and value,” said association president and chief executive Gary Shapiro.

“Consumers’ desire for connected devices is pushing projected revenues higher than originally anticipated, but the long-term health of our industry relies on a strong and growing US economy.”

Sales of mobile connected devices, led by tablets, are a key factor in the growth outlook. The association said tablet sales would hit $29.1 billion for the year, $10.8 billion more than forecasted in January.

The association is forecasting 83 percent sales growth year-over-year in tablets and total unit sales of 68.5 million.

“Tablets are the fastest-growing product category in the history of the CE industry, and sales will continue to increase as more products hit the market, offering consumers more choices in size, price, operating systems and app ecosystems,” said Steve Koenig, the association’s director of industry analysis.

Smartphone unit sales are expected to grow 24 percent to 108 million units, accounting for revenue of $33.7 billion in 2012.

The group forecasts a modest increase in laptop sales to 21.3 million units and revenues of $14.9 billion.

Sales of networked-enabled TVs are projected to top 10 million, growing 56 percent in 2012, with revenue up 20 percent at $9 billion.