Retailers revel in Christmas sales

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Retailers have reported strong computer product sales over the Christmas period, driven largely by a boom in consumer spending on digital cameras and notebooks.

Big retailer Harvey Norman recorded a 15 percent year-on-year increase in overall computer product sales in December, reporting 'extremely strong trading' between December 18 and 31.

John Slack-Smith, general manager of computers and communications at Harvey Norman, said digital cameras were an "absolute standout" with the retailer recording a massive 200 percent increase in sales year-on-year.

Overall, notebook sales were up 30 percent year-on-year to the detriment of desktop sales which were flat, Slack-Smith said.

As expected, sales of printing and imaging products nearly doubled year-on-year in line with the rise in camera sales, he said.

Games and games console sales however, had a slow start to the period dragging down numbers in Harvey's software business, Slack-Smith said.

Warwick Kerr, buying manager, entertainment and appliances at retailer David Jones, said the company had strong computer and related product sales in December, a trend which had continued into January.

Without divulging figures, he said Sony PlayStation, Xbox, digital camera and desktop PC sales had been particularly strong. "I think it's getting around that time to replace things," he said, adding that consumers are realising they need to upgrade their PCs alongside their digital camera purchases.

Sales had exceeded the company's expectations over the December period, despite a rise in interest rates, he said.

Peter Geer, a buyer at Coles Myer, said the retailer experienced a "significant" increase in computer product sales on the same month last year. Laptops, games consoles and home networking products did "quite well", he said. Home networking product sales were strong in line with the rapid uptake in console gaming, he said.

Rob Wilkins, the proprietor of Carina Computers in Goulburn NSW, said the small retailer recorded sales revenue of $150,000 in December, a $60,000 increase on December 2002.

Carina is one of four IT retailers that services Goulburn, which has a population of 25,000. The retailer sold around 15 Canon digital cameras in December and had some on backorder during the month, Wilkins said. Around 40 percent of all computer sales were Acer or Benq laptops, he said.  

For computer hardware manufacturer Creative Labs, it was an MP3 Christmas with the vendor dominating this market through retailers with its Nomad products, according to Nick Angelucci, marketing manager at Creative. Sales of flash memory and hard disk players had tripled over last year through retail outlets and the vendor was required to fly in more stock from Singapore over the period, he said.

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