Honeymoon period over for Australia’s gadget love affair

The honeymoon period looks to be over for gadget-loving Australians, with the market taking a 28% dive in quarter three.

A combination of consumer pessimism, market maturity and a strong Australian dollar accelerated the speed of what has been a developing decline since the close of 2011, according to research firm GfK’s ‘TEMAX’ study.

The consumer electronics sector was the worst hit of the technology categories, retracting in value by 28% year on year, amid intense price erosion. However, many gadget types within the segment did not suffer from simply a value decline, but dropped in unit sales also.

TVs for example reached a value peak in 2009 but continued to experience unit sales increase until 2011. The decline in units for TVs is now significant, the report states, as the market finds its new, “natural size”.

Elsewhere in the sector, the smartphone-fuelled growth of the telecommunications segments stalled, remaining flat, while fortunes were also down for information technology, which experienced its first significant decline – 12% – for many years.  In domestic appliances, major items, such as refrigerators and ovens, declined by 4%, while small items, such as kettles and vacuum cleaners, bucked the trend, growing by 4%.

“Technological and design innovation, coupled with ongoing media interest in the kitchen and household arena, has been successful in attracting consumers to higher-end, higher-value products in the small appliances segment, the report says.

“Star segments within this sector continue to be food preparation products, hot beverage makers and vacuum cleaners, while hair stylers generated this quarter’s highest value growth.”

Overall the value of the technology goods market contracted by 11% compared to quarter three 2011 to hit $4.09 billion – its lowest point in three years.

“Significant turmoil within the retailer base” is one of the key challenges isolated in the report.

“The quarter has been marked by store closures and changes in ownership, while the industry re-structures and re-positions itself for the uncertain future ahead,” it reads. “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.”