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Smartphone sales defy massive drop in UK consumer electronics spend

In a week when 'Black Friday' discounts are making it a great time to get a deal on consumer electronics, the latest UK figures from Gfk Retail and Technology show we're spending signficantly less on products, with October 2011 seeing the worst slump in CE sales for more than a decade.

However, there are still some strong technology sellers, with a staggering 16 million smartphones expected to sold in the UK this year, led by the latest Android handsets and Apple's iPhone 4S. Tablet sales are also taking hold.

But the growth in feature-packed phones has understandably hit other sectors - and not just because we've less money to spend on other kit!

For example, sales of dedicated portable music players are down more than 40 percent, as people listen on their smartphones instead. Sales of compact cameras have also suffered as the quality available from mobile phone handset increases.

Likewise, the sudden spurt in tablet sales - led by the Apple iPad - has hit the market for both desktop and laptop PCs.

More than a billion less spent on technology

Returning to the core consumer-electronics market, the latest stats indicate we're on course to spend 15 percent less than we did last year, which also saw falls in sales. These recessionary declines have wiped more than £1bn off the value of the UK consumer electronics market in two years.

Of course, such figures may be worse news for retailers than consumers - a significant amount of that value decline is due to products falling in price.

For example, Blu-ray players now cost on average 16 percent less than they did a year ago, with TV price erosion even more dramatic. The most popular sizes of TVs - between 37-42in - are now selling for 30 percent less then they did last year.

Such figures starkly show the reasons behind recent retail closures and manufacturer losses. As Gfk business group director, Nigel Catlow concludes: "It's clear that this Christmas season is going to be very tough indeed".

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