Electronics sales down in warmer weather

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The Independent Online

Sales of consumer electronics fell on a quarterly basis for the first time in nearly five years yesterday, hammering home the dire state of big-ticket retail purchases.

The market research company Gfk said that electricals fell by 0.3 per cent for the three months from April to June compared with the previous quarter in 2008. This was the first time there had been a sequential fall since the fourth quarter of 2003 and followed 17 consecutive quarters of growth in the £9.14 billion British consumer electronic market.

The finding will send shivers down the spine of big electricals retailers including the DSGi-owned Currys and PC World, as well as Kesa Electricals-owned Comet. However, Gfk said that independent retailers had faired the worst, with sales falling by 16.7 per cent in May and 9.8 per cent in June.

In particular, the market research company cited weak sales of LCD televisions, which received a minimal boost from the Euro 2008 football championship, and MP3/4 players.

While sales of LCDs grew by 11 per cent in June, average price deflation of 10 per cent eroded any value growth. Sales of MP3 and MP4 devices tumbled by 18 per cent in June.

James Randall, the commercial director at GfK, said: "The warm weather had a significant impact on sales of consumer electronics, with consumers switching to buying products for their gardens. But, looking at the quarter as a whole gives the clearest indication of what is happening in the market and it's not good news."