Gadget sales 'to top $1.2 trillion' in 2012

PETER SVENSSON
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2012

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Developing countries like China and India will drive global sales of consumer electronics above US$1 trillion (NZ$1.2 trillion) this year for the first time, even as cash-strapped shoppers in the U.S. and Western Europe ease off spending for high-tech gear, industry analysts said Sunday.

Developing countries will account for 46 percent of global gadget sales in 2012, up from 37 percent four years ago, according to GfK Boutique Research and the Consumer Electronics Association.

The groups presented their forecast ahead of the massive International Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Their estimate of 2012 global electronics sales, at $1.038 trillion, represents growth of 5 percent from last year. That compares to growth of 8 percent from 2010 to 2011.

Consumers in China and other developing Asian countries, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe are snapping up high-tech goods as they climb toward a middle-class lifestyle. Meanwhile, gadget sales in the U.S., Japan and Western Europe are stagnant, unable to command a higher share of consumer spending.

Separately, tne NPD Group said Sunday that U.S. sales of consumer electronics fell 5.9 percent this past holiday season, as smartphones cannibalize sales of standalone gadgets like cameras, camcorders and GPS navigation devices.

The firm, which tracks retail sales, said electronics sales excluding phones totalled $9.5 billion in the five weeks ending Dec. 24.

Camcorder sales plunged 43 percent, and sales of digital picture frames fell 38 percent. GPS units slumped 33 percent. PC and TV sales slipped just 4 percent, bolstered by sales of TVs bigger than 127 centimetres.

Best Buy Co., the largest U.S. electronics retailer, said Friday that December sales lagged because of weak traffic. Sales at stores open a year fell 1.2 percent for the month. However, sales were strong for smartphones, tablet computers and e-readers.

The CEA and GfK expect smartphones and tablets to be the hot products globally as well, to the exclusion of other devices.

"We'll see most product categories slowing down or going into contraction," said Steve Bambridge, research director at U.K.-based GfK. Smartphones and tablets are "sucking up consumer spending" he said.

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- AP

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