Put it down to interest-rate cuts, consumer pessimism and the steady Australian dollar — the majority of consumer-technology market categories in Australia are in decline.
The latest data from industry analyst GfK Temax shows a dismal Q3 2012 scorecard for consumer-tech categories, including information technology, photo and general consumer electronics. Compared to the same period last year, overall market value was down 10.8 per cent.
TV and A/V categories (which fall under the general banner of "consumer electronics") took the biggest hit in Q3, dropping 27.8 per cent from the previous year. Photography and imaging was the second worst performer, falling 18.3 per cent in the third quarter alone. Measured over the entire year, the category dropped 14.6 per cent from 2011 figures.
GfK pegs the decline in the IT category, which dropped nearly 12 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2011, on factors like price erosion. Tablets also overtook laptops in terms of units sold during Q3.
The only categories that bucked the trend were small domestic appliances and telecommunications, which includes mobile phones and smartphones. However, the data shows that value in the mobile category is flat, following a brief growth spurt over the course of 2011.
Thanks to the influence of higher-end smartphones, however, value sales continue to exceed units: in fact, although value was flat, the segment experienced significant, double-digit unit decline in the quarter.
It's not all doom and gloom in these figures, though; GfK pointed to headphones in particular "enjoying a revival of fortunes" due to associated demand from mobile phone and PC/tablet users.
GfK doesn't measure online sales, so the picture isn't entirely complete with regards to the buying patterns of Aussie consumers. Still, it's a pretty sorry state for the Aussie tech market in general right now, with GfK predicting the pattern to continue:
The Australian Technical Consumer Goods (TCG) market is clearly experiencing some exceptional challenges, causing significant turmoil within the retailer base. The quarter has been marked by store closures and changes in ownership, while the industry restructures and repositions itself for the uncertain future ahead.
Overall trends are unlikely to change significantly during the lead-up to Christmas, but new model launches and product developments will be optimised, in order to maximise the peak season's share of consumer spend.