Digital cameras record colossal sales growth

Sales of digital still cameras in Australia have increased by a staggering 1940 per cent over the past three years, according to the results of a new quarterly retail index.

The inaugural Canon Consumer Lifestyle Index (CDLI), released earlier this month, was commissioned by Canon and compiled by retail analyst firm GfK Marketing Services.

The index focused on sales of products across nine digital consumer product categories, including digital still and video cameras, inkjet printers, DVD players, games consoles, digital TV, VCRs, scanners and multi-function devices (MFDs).

According to the CDLI, around 400,000 digital still cameras have been sold so far this year, with 163,777 units sold in Q3 2003. This compares with approximately 70,000 unit sales in the same quarter in 2002.

In contrast, just 8026 digital still cameras were sold in Q1 2000. This was well below the overall three-year quarter sales average calculated by GfK (62,522 units).

CDLI project manager Angus Macaskill said the 1940 per cent sales growth was the result of calculating the percentage change in digital camera unit sales from the first quarter (8026 units) listed in the index to the most recent quarter (when 163,777 units were sold).

The highest growth in digital still camera sales recorded in the CDLI was between Q3 and Q4 2000 (158.6 per cent), followed by Q3 to Q4 2002 (117.6 per cent).

Macaskill said GfK has recorded a total of 937,825 digital still camera unit sales since Q1 2000.

The CDLI also found digital video cameras had experienced substantial sales growth, rising by 1041 per cent between Q1 2000 and Q2 2003.

Over 50,000 digital video cameras were sold during Q3 2003 – the highest per quarter unit sales figures recorded for digital video cameras so far.

“Looking at the years 2000, 2001, and 2002, unit sales in all of the digital technologies increased noticeably, with the exception of scanners - which are declining due to the rise of MFDs,” GfK stated.

Across other digital device categories, sales figures for DVD players jumped between 2000 and 2003 from 22,718 units sold in Q1 2000 to 297,575 units sold in Q3 2003. DVD player sales peaked at 416,989 units in Q4 2002.

“If the pattern of 2003 is repeated the peak could exceed half a million in Q4 2003,” GfK stated.

However, VCR unit sales across each quarter remained mostly flat over that time, with a small increase from 170,999 units in Q1 2000 to 196,305 units in Q3 2003. While not digital devices, VCRs are included in the CDLI for comparison, GfK said.

Additionally, while annual sales of digital televisions increased between 2002 and 2003, figures were found to be still well below 50,000 units in the most recent sales quarter.

“The digital TV market is still in its infancy - no surprise, given the paucity of content that would otherwise render such devices attractive,” GfK stated.

Growth of games consoles is also “surprisingly flat” between 2000 and 2003, despite market activity and the introduction of new brands (Xbox, GameCube) during that time, GfK stated.

Nevertheless, games console sales experienced a strong rise during Q4 2000 and Q4 2001, with a peak of 343,201 unit sales achieved in Q4 2002.

Overall, the CDLI showed Australians had spent approximately $440 million on digital devices in Q3 2003 – a rise of $225 million from the amount spent in Q3 2000.

Total annual spend by Australians on digital devices over the course of a year is expected to reach almost $2 billion, GfK stated.

Not surprisingly, the index found the largest amount of growth per quarter in monetary terms occurred during Q4 2002, when sales of digital devices reached over $500 million.

Although Q4 figures for 2003 have not yet been finalised, GfK forecasts even bigger Christmas sales figures than the previous quarter.

“Given that Q4 sales have historically far exceeded sales in the other three quarters we can forecast that 2003 sales will outstrip prior year figures by a healthy margin,” GfK stated.

The CDLI is based on the results of GfK’s retail audit panel (RAP). This panel represents between 80 to 85 per cent of retailers across Australia stocking consumer technology goods including IT products, telecommunications, office communications, electronic entertainment and photographic equipment.

Sales figures both by units and dollar value from each of these retailers are transmitted electronically to GfK, which then compiles the figures each month.

The next CDLI is expected to be released in February 2004.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

PC World
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