What you bought in 2008: from turntables to TVs – the surprising winners and losers as credit got crunched

Did you know the average selling price for a 32in TV was £402 in December? Or that there were still around £2m worth of £1000+ DVD players sold last year? Or that turntables are the fastest-growing hi-fi product?

Well you do now, and I'm about to reveal more insights into your buying habits of the past year, thanks to a slew of new consumer-electronics sales data that's been sliced and diced by industry analysts at Gfk.

GfK figures are based on sell-out retail data (ie the prices you pay at the checkout) from across the UK, online and offline. They cover independent retailers, mass merchandisers (eg department stores; supermarkets), electrical multiples (eg Currys, Comet) and mail order (including online retailers).

More than six billion pounds of AV sales

Following many years of growth, the overall consumer electronics market shrank by 8.1 percent in 2008, with the most dramatic falls from November onwards. Contrast that with 2007, where the CE market grew by 7.6 percent.

However, unlike areas such as domestic appliances - down 12.8 percent, attributed to far less people moving house - the AV sector has shown a much smaller decline.

The UK market for AV products, which includes all hi-fi, home cinema, TV and MP3 products (excluding mobile phones), is only down 2 percent year on year, with a staggering £6.1bn of sales in 2008.

2008's winners and losers

So, before we dig into the details, let's see a snapshot of what was up and what was down in this turbulent year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a tale of falling prices, though there were some intriguing success stories, too


  • Blu-ray players have overtaken DVD players in value for the first time
  • Headphone sales are up 11 percent (with growth in both hi-fi and MP3 designs)
  • iPod docking products - from clock radios to speaker systems - are up 61 percent
  • Hi-fi separates sales (which in Gfk terms includes home cinema kit) are up 5 percent – boosted by booming receiver sales, and turntables!
  • Plasma sales are up 3 percent – driven by some strong deals on 50in sets at the end of the year.
  • LCD TVs have crashed in price – down 5 percent in value terms despite increase in volume. However, LCD sales still account for more than half of the AV market, at £3.216bn. Blimey....
  • Hi-fi and home cinema all-in-one systems are down 9 percent – while the world awaits a mass-market Blu-ray system…
  • MP3/MP4 player sales are down 4 percent (these figures don't include - but are certainly influenced by – MP3 mobile phones, including the iPhone).
  • DVD recorders, PVRs and portable radios are also all down – but more by value than volume

Televisions - the UK remains flatscreen-crazy, boosted by HD TV and Blu-ray (as well as the sets themselves) becoming more affordable.

  • 9 million TVs were sold in 2008 – not bad when you consider the UK only has 25m households. This is up from 8.6m unit sales in 2007.
  • 32in remains most popular screen size – but 37-42in is fastest-growing sector – with the average selling price of £402 for a 32in in December.
  • Plasma is holding its value better than LCD – average price in December of a 50in plasma was £1020, with more than 100,000 sales that month.
  • Blu-ray player sales (not including PS3) rose from £11m in 2007 to £57m in 2008.
  • December 2007 – 6,400 Blu-ray players sold, average price £333
  • December 2008 – 86,000 Blu-ray players sold, average price £189
  • 2008 average selling price of a DVD player - £29. But there were still £2m worth of £1000+ DVD players sold in the UK last year…
  • September's launch of new Apple iPods didn’t give the market the by-now-expected lift.
  • 75 percent of the MP3/MP4 player market (£473m) is now at £100+
  • iPod speaker systems are now a £60m market, with 640,000 units sold (up from 500,000 in 2007), and an average selling price of £67 (up from £54).Yes, just £67 - despite £150+ speaker systems being the fastest-growing category.

Radio - the UK's passion for radio remains undimmed:

  • 8.5m DAB radios sold to date
  • 2.1m DAB radios sold in 2008 (up from 2m in 2007)
  • Did you buy/receive a radio at Christmas? With 1m DAB radios sold in the lead up to Christmas, a lot of people did...
  • Hi-fi tuners are still holding their value
  • Internet radios, such as the Pure Evoke Flow (above) are starting to register – accounting for 6 percent of radio sales (by value) in December 2008. DAB has 80 percent value share; analogue the rest
  • £144m of home cinema systems sold in 2008 – with £15m at £500-£1000 and £18m at £1000+.
  • Hi-fi systems are stable, and not all the action's at the cheap-micro end: £13m worth of £500-£1000 systems (such as the Arcam Solo Mini, pictured below) were sold in 2008, and £8m of £1000+ systems.

Audio streaming, music clients/servers - a fast-growing market, worth £16m in 2008. Average selling price of £334.

Audio separates - after several years of decline, separates are making a kind of comeback!

  • Market stayed level 2007-2008 at £200m
  • Major mover was AV receivers - up from £30m in 2007 to £39m in 2008, boosted by demand for Blu-ray friendly HD Audio receivers
  • Turntable market up to £10m from £9m, with both standard and USB turntables driving sales.
  • Slight fall in sales of speakers and speaker packages (no need to upgrade them for Blu-ray!), but speakers still account for half of all separates sales, at £100m.
  • CD players sales have stabilised, boosted by growth in the midrange market - the arrival of new models from Cyrus, Arcam and Roksan (see below) in this sector had a noticeable impact.

And finally - news for a nation of cable-lovers
The HDMI cable market was worth £23m in 2008, with 650,000 cables sold, at an average price of £31. More than 130,000 HDMI cables were sold in December alone....

So, did your 2008 purchases fit the pattern, or did you buck the trend?