According to just-released data from GfK in its Temax (‘Technical Market Segment’) report, the ‘photo’ segment suffered a 15.3 percent fall in sales last year compared to 2010.
When the critical last quarter of 2011 is compared to the last quarter of 2010, the drop was 22.9 percent. Speaking with retailers and distributors, stock shortages due to the Thai floods contributed to this dismal final quarter result.
The growth in smartphones and the broader telecommunications segment pulled the whole ‘technical consumer goods’ market – CE, photo, domestic appliances, IT, telecommunications, and office equipment and consummables – to a positive result overall, with full year value growth of 4 percent ($19.4 billion).
While the photo category – in which GfK includes cameras, camcorders and inkjet printerss – slumped, GfK says 2011 ‘will surely be remembered in Australia as the year of the smartphone’. GfK analysts were unwilling to make any connection between the two contrasting results when approached by Photo Counter.
While the telecommunications sector reported a full-year value growth of 41 percent, Consumer Electronics (CE) recorded a 14 percent fall in revenue. The telco sector is now equal in size to CE, at an estimated $1.25 billion in retail sales.
In the final quarter of 2011, telco recorded its single biggest quarter-on-quarter growth for the year – a remarkable 65 percent.
‘New models launched at the start of the final quarter dominated the smartphone segment and helped drive bumper pre-Christmas sales. Smartphones accounted for almost three quarters of all mobile phones purchased in the fourth quarter, up from just under half in the final quarter of 2010,’ said the GfK Temax press release.
Sector by sector
Photo – product innovation buoys the sector: Despite a particularly tough quarter for the photo sector, says GfK, both DSLR cameras and mirrorless compact system cameras experienced growth in both units and value.
‘Within the flagging fixed lens camera segment, suppliers are turning to innovative products to drive the market. As a result, the outdoor, or ‘tough’ sub-segment, experienced growth. These more niche models also attract a higher price point, selling at just under $100 more than an average point-and-shoot model.’
Consumer Electronics – double-digit value decline: Accounting for over half of the value of the CE sector, TV market trends were yet again characterised by highly aggressive price discounting. This drove modest unit growth for the segment, while significant double-digit value decline continued.
Information Technology – growth slows: Although the IT sector continued to post healthy value growth (7 percent for the final quarter), growth was significantly lower than the Q1 growth of 14 percent, or O3’s result of 12 percent.
The main driver of the sector‘s growth was tablet devices. During the lead-up to Christmas, sales of tablets were particularly strong, with the segment out-selling notebook computers for two weekly periods in December.
The popularity of tablets has also had a positive impact on sales of accessories such as tablet keyboards.
Small Domestic Appliances – Prestige products grow: The performance of the SDA sector is usually at the mercy of the weather, with the seasonal heating and cooling segments dominating the overall value of the sector. However, despite a slight fall in value for air conditioners this quarter, the sector managed to achieve overall value growth of 3 percent thanks to the growing demand for ‘prestige’ products.
Major Domestic Appliances – flat and steady: Within an otherwise volatile industry, the steady performance of the MDA sector has been a reassuring anchor. Despite some mild price erosion across all segments, an increase in popularity of high-end products within the dominant refrigeration and washing machine segments held the sector steady.
‘With many brands and retailers announcing gloomy results, and warning of a challenging year ahead, the Australian TCG market will be focused on diversification and innovation. In the meantime, consumer sentiment is likely to remain cautious, as the local economic outlook continues to be unclear,’ according to GfK.