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Retail printer sales run out of ink

Retail printer sales run out of ink

Having ridden the desktop printer revolution, the latest printer sales figures from channel research organisation Inform reveal the total market declined from October to November last year. Retail sales of inkjets were the big culprit in terms of under-performance.

According to Inform's research manager, Chris Herbert, analysts were actually forecasting "sluggish growth in the latter months of 2000", but his research showed November's figures to have declined by 1 per cent over October.

"Historically, November has been one of the strongest months of the year fuelled by consumer purchasing, in particular inkjets through the retail channel," Herbert said. "This year the trend reversed with inkjets falling 3 per cent and being responsible for the overall decline in units for the total market."

According to research from Inform's Market Monitoring division, overall printer sales dropped sharply in the categories they define as "Mass Merchants" and "Direct Marketers". Both were down by 7 per cent in November on October's sales.

The 42 per cent share of the printer market recorded by mass merchants is down 3 per cent on October and "one of the lowest this channel experienced in 2000" according to Herbert. The research also indicated things had not been so bad for the small and medium players in the market.

Sales categorised under "Independent Retailers" and "Traditional Dealers" were the only two to show growth in the survey period, earning 4 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

It is not all doom and gloom for vendors and resellers of printers, however, only inkjets, according to Herbert.

"Laser printer sales actually increased 3 per cent this month, contributing to the positive growth of 4 per cent in the overall value of the market", he said.

Of the major players in the inkjet and laser printer market, HP outsold all other competitors to remain at the top of the list in both laser and inkjet categories, but it actually registered a 1 per cent slip in total market share from October to November.

Canon was the only vendor to improve the number of units it shipped through channels with a 4 per cent jump in sales. Its stagnant "sales value" in the category shows Canon achieved the volume increase through the price-cutting of its low-end models.

Overall sales through channels declined for both Epson (down 4 per cent) and Lexmark (down 3 per cent), a performance Herbert attributed to "a lack of demand for inkjets".


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