By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Figures released by GfK this morning show that the turmoil surrounding the Australian economy did not stop consumers from buying retail products in the final quarter of 2008. In total, $5.34 billion was spent on technical goods in the last three months of last year — that’s an increase of 4.8 per cent on the previous year.

The big sellers during this survey period were notebook computers, photographic equipment and LCD TVs. Not doing so well, however, were domestic appliances, office equipment and smalls.

During 2008, over $2.6 billion was spent on IT products, with notebook computers being the biggest seller. Further driving this category has been the proliferation in both demand and supply for handheld, smaller format netbooks, which now accounts for 9 per cent of the value of notebooks.

Advances in the production of DSLR photographic equipment has enabled this category to grow 71 per cent quarter on quarter despite a decline in prices. This is due to increased uptake in higher specification models. GfK also reported that digital photo frames had been big sellers in the lead up to the Christmas season.

With sales of over $870 million during Q4 2008, flat panel TVs is the single biggest category tracked by GfK. This figure equates to 16 per cent of the total technological spend by Australian consumers.

Only two categories tracked by GfK reported a downturn in spending during Q4 2008. These were small domestic appliances, which was down 6.6 per cent, and office equipment, which dropped by 2.3 per cent.