Only a slight decline for consumer electronics sales in 2016, Brexit fears notwithstanding

Although the referendum vote to leave the European Union caused anxiety about its effect on business (as indicated by the pessimism and caution registered in GfK’s post referendum Consumer Confidence survey) sales of electrical durables over the second half of 2016 appeared largely unaffected.

However, although retail revenue on and around Black Friday increased versus its 2015 equivalent, there was a 4% turnover decline for Consumer electronics in December and its 2016 market turnover ended up slightly below the value achieved in 2015.

A disappointing performance given the experience of the previous thirty-five years, when bi-annual sporting tournaments (the Euro football championships in this case) could generally be relied upon to give an uplift to the TV market (always worth over 60% of CE turnover). The TV decline occurred despite the continued strong growth for 4K TVs, whose success contrasted starkly with the faltering performance of smaller non 4K TVs. At least the growth potential of 4K Blu-ray was confirmed and more manufacturers are releasing products in 2017. At the same time, the relative maturity of the Soundbars market (everyone who wanted one now has one) meant that that market declined for the first time, partly because fewer were given away free in manufacturers’ TV packages.

Fortunately the gloriously escapist world of modern Audio HIFI appeared unaffected by any gloom or doom, and there was significant growth for Multiroom audio systems and wireless speakers, and the not so modern Turntables category clocked up another year’s impressive growth. At the same time, diverse radio products, while not growing, continued to sell in abundance, as digital radio listening headed inexorably towards the 50% threshold needed to set in motion (eventually) the long awaited analogue to digital switchover.