Total sales of tech consumer goods in Western Europe fell 5.9 per cent to €45.5 billion in Q3 – but which categories performed best?
GfK TEMAX said in a statement: "Good sales growth across single segments was not enough to lift up the overall sales into positive territory several. The only exception was the telecommunications market.
"The ongoing positive demand for smartphones was once again strong enough to compensate weaker sales in other categories and thus generated positive overall sales for the whole sector. However, there were positive indicators within a general mediocre Q3 from other markets too, which gives hope for a turnaround.
"Consumers in some countries are more often prepared to spend more money and politics soften their rigid austerity program, which has partly slowed domestic economy activities. These are encouraging signals with the important Christmas business ahead."
Sales in the Western European consumer electronics hit €6.7 billion in Q3 2013 – a decrease of 17 per cent compared to the previous year, driven mostly by the poor development of the TV market.
But there were positive developments in niche sectors like bigger screens, Smart TV, connected audio, docking speakers and Bluetooth headphones and headsets. The 2014 World Cup could lift TV sales next year.
Western European consumers also spent a total of €1.7 billion on photo products in Western Europe in Q3 2013. This is a quarter-on-quarter decrease of 20.6 per cent.
However, top-quality digital camera sales increased, and advanced fixed-lens cameras were in high demand.
"Smartphones may be causing decline on the low end of the camera market, but they are also introducing more people to photography than ever before. This presents a unique opportunity for inspiring interest in many consumers for this field, which may ultimately motivate them to buy increasingly high-end cameras," said GfK TEMAX Western Europe in a statement.
Ultra-thin notebooks and tablets offered potential in the Q3 Western Europe IT market, said GfK TEMAX, despite sales down 2.8 per cent compared with last year. The overall sales volume reached €12.9 billion in Q3.
The only countries with small growth in this sector were Belgium, Portugal and Greece whose markets were in recovery.
"The turnover share of ultra-thin notebooks and tablet computers is currently more than 20 per cent lower than the turnover of media tablets, but they have a high potential of turnover growth in 2014," said GfK TEMAX Western Europe in a statement.
"However, these sales can still not compensate for the decreasing demand for classical computer segments such as mobile and desktop computers. However, the availability of touch-screen items will initiate a new demand cycle for mobile and desk computers in Q4 2013 and in 2014."
For 2014 the demand for products in the IT segments is expected to increase by a slight growth rate in a low single-digit range.
The Office Equipment and Consumables market was down 4.9 per cent on last year, with a sales volume of €3.5 billion.
Greece and Sweden were the only countries within the GfK TEMAX Western Europe data defying this trend and generating a small positive growth rate.
Many consumers bought higher priced office equipment products. For inkjet printing, WLAN, touch displays and other features are now seen more in new models, while in the laser printing segment, MFD mono printing sold better than single function printers.
Telecommunication sales grew 10.3 per cent from July to September 2013 year-on-year, with €10 billion generated and smartphones selling strongly. All markets saw a healthy quarterly growth except for a slight dip in the Netherlands and a larger double-digit decline in Greece.
Small Domestic Appliances saw a sales decline of 1.3% in Q3, with a sales volume of €2.9 billion. However, Germany, France and the UK achieved the strongest growth rates.
Turnover cordless handstick vacuum cleaners increased despite the overall market decline, with premium priced, high voltage and LI-ON battery models selling well. Liquidizers also performed strongly and electric toothbrushes showed growth. Bagged cylinder products struggled to compete with bagless appliances.
Sales of Major Domestic Appliances reached €7.7 billion in Q3 2013, but sales dipped 3.1 per cent. Positive developments were seen in Austria, Italy and the UK; the rest of the markets showed only a single-digit decrease with the exception of Spain. Sales of tumble dryers and kitchen appliances were also affected negatively.