When there is a consolidation/or price keeps rotating inside a 'value area' for a long time along with low volumes, it means that in this price region, neither the buyers nor the sellers are willing to take the price Up or down. Hence, trading is going on but not in large contracts. The buyers dont see any future value in the stock and the seller dont see it as over valued.
But, when the price starts to move towards the 'upper level' of the value area, there is always a possibility of breakout depending upon the volume profile prior to the move.
Hope this explains the point.