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Consumer Tech Market Slumps 5%

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 20/02/2013

Aussie consumer tech drops 5% in Q4 as "aggressive price discounting" bites, according to Gfk.

However, there were some major growth sectors - small appliances like shavers, smartphones, headphones saved the industry from going into freefall last year.

Total sales of CE goods hit $4.99 billion in Q4 - up from $4.09 bn in Q3.

And also tablets sales like iPad outstripped notebooks for the first time in fourth quarter, GfK Temax latest data shows.

Last year, Consumer Electronics fell a massive 22%, Major Domestic Appliances like fridges remained flat with zero growth, while IT (1%), Small Appliances (4%) and Telecommunications (4%) witnessed growth, albeit modest.

Photo and camera sector also slumped a massive 15%.

However, October-December last was better period for consumer technology than Q3, and saw a bounce back during  Christmas trading.

The rate of decline returned to a  "modest" 3% bouncing back from 11% in third quarter.

"Throughout 2012, the TCG (Technical Consumer Goods) market was characterized by aggressive price discounting and an increased pressure on new model releases and technological innovation to drive sales," says GfK.

"Traditional retail channels were under significant pressure, and a fundamental re-structure of the Australian retail scene was evident, as the industry began to adapt to new market conditions."

However, the super fashionable headphones from the likes of Beats and Sennheiser continues to be the "one growth segment" within the CE market.

In TV's the focus has shifted to the premium, feature-rich,super-large LED segment, with sales of 55"+ screen sizes accounting for 15% of all TVs sold in Q4 in OZ as Sharp, LG and Panasonic all launch bigger sets, GfK figures show.

Small Domestic Appliances was the only sector to deliver consistent growth throughout 2012, peaking at 8% in Q4.

Dental care and hairstylers enjoyed the highest growth rates while food preparation, hot beverage makers and vacuums also drove sales up.

"The market will turn to the Domestic Appliances sectors to continue to provide underlying stability during a period of change and uncertainty", GfK warned. 

Big Appliance market was flat in Q4 and GfK notes "the reality of an increasingly competitive sector."

Howver, there was an increase in average price, due to the popularity of high-capacity french door products (700L+) fridges , and front loader washing machines.

The consumer tech industry is also now "increasingly dependent" on telecommunications i.e smartphones for survival, notes GfK.

Telecommunication sales accounted for $4.1 billion in 2012 but sales of iPhone, Android and Co. levelled abruptly in the second quarter and remained "flat" for the remainder of last year.

However, average prices of phones rose 6% and in Q4, a massive 40% of smartphones sold had an average price of $750.

Following a slump in sales the last quarter, the IT sector sales soared 7% - tablets sales more than doubled notebooks, for the first time, in both value and sales.

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