By Martin Vedris

Some sectors of retail have slowed down but not the technical goods market as defined by leading data collection agency, GfK. The positive start to 2009 continues, with February sales up on last year.

GfK determines the technical goods market as being comprised of 80 categories, covering consumer electronics, IT, imaging, telecom, white goods and small domestic appliances.

Recently, retail analysts have suggested that consumer electrical retailers stand to particularly benefit from the second government fiscal stimulus package. However, some retail categories, particularly motor vehicles, are struggling year on year.

The news is good for consumer electrical retailers though, with overall value growth of 3.3 per cent February 2009 versus February 2008 and YTD (Jan/Feb combined) year on year growth of 5.9 per cent, according to GfK’s data.

“Due to the high temperatures in February, fans and air conditioners experienced one of the strongest growth rates — a combined value growth of 83 per cent,” said GfK retail and technology strategic planning manager, Gwenno Hopkin.

“Also, in contrast to previous months where growth had been very flat, white goods experienced healthy value growth of nine per cent, although the cooking segment declined by nine per cent. Also, small domestic appliance growth rates slowed from previous months, with a modest overall value growth of 1.4 per cent (excluding air).

Further GfK data revealed outstanding results in some categories.

“Continuing the trends of previous months, the home office segment grew by 14.6 per cent, fuelled by notebook growth of 26 per cent, storage and networking growth of 31 per cent and 53 per cent respectively, and IT peripherals growth of 22 per cent,” said Hopkin.

“The ink cartridge category was up 10 per cent year on year, and imaging categories also continued their popularity, with a value growth of 14 per cent for digital still.”

The news is not so great in all sectors however, with perhaps the most competitive sector, flat panel TV, going backwards.

“The largest category measured within technical goods saw the first value decline for months, with flat-panel TV in decline by 4.7 per cent after particularly strong Christmas and New Year growth rates,” said Hopkin.

“Due to strong price erosion DVD and receiver categories were also in decline by 10 per cent in value, while, unsurprisingly, set-top boxes grew by 21.5 per cent.”

The technical goods data comprising March figures will be reported in mid-May when the second GfK TEMAX, a new quarterly sales index, is released on 15 May.