Distribution giant Tech Pacific has disputed channel analyst Inform's market figures for July, claiming the company's report of a sales slide on software, particularly on business packages, is inaccurate.
Meanwhile, Infom has fired back a salvo of its own, saying "Tech Pac is measuring sales into the retail channel, not what is coming out".
In a recent market report, Inform measured a 58 per cent drop off in business software. But, according to Marlene Gant, Tech Pacific's retail and software category manager, business application sales for July are up 15 per cent on June and August is tracking a further 10 per cent rise.
Contrary to Inform's claim that sales in May and July are on a par, with a GST-driven explosion in the middle, Tech Pacific has registered a steady growth across the three months in its retail, corporate bundling, and business sales channels.
"Retail for July/August has been very strong, which shows tremendous signs of confidence in the consumer market post-GST," said Gant.
"Antivirus sales are up 24 per cent on June and have remained consistent throughout August. We've not seen a decline or any nervousness in the software sales at all."
Inform's senior research analyst, Phil Burnham, said that it all boils down to the methodology used. The research company collects monthly sales data from a panel of 24 major retailers and mass merchants, representing over 2000 retail outlets throughout Australia.
"We're talking completely crossed purposes," Burnham said. "What we're measuring is sales through retail outlets. Tech Pacific will be including areas which we're not covering, such as any of the business channels.
"We know exactly what's going on in the retail marketplace. We can tell accurately what the consumers are buying and how much they're buying it for, whereas Tech Pacific can only say what they're shipping into a retailer."
"I'm not surprised that Tech Pacific is seeing a higher level of sales going in because the stock levels were really depleted throughout June, so companies will be building the inventory back up. This doesn't mean the consumers are buying it on the other end."
The other point of contention is that Tech Pacific doesn't distribute MYOB or Quicken which, according to Burnham, make up 97 per cent of the SME accounting market.
"If Tech Pacific can't give any input on how those two products are doing I don't think they're able to give a fair picture of what's happening in the market," said Burnham.
"They might be carrying someone like Manaccom, whose sales have gone up marginally. But Manaccom account for about 2 per cent of the market and aren't going to have any real effect on the total finance sector going up or down."
"If you're trying to give an opinion on the market and you're only looking at 3 per cent, you're not going to have a very good handle on what's happening," he said.
Gant agrees that while Tech Pacific may not have any figures on accounting software specifically, finance is part of the business suite, thus increased sales in one would effectively mean an increase in both.
"We distribute the largest range of vendor business products, including Microsoft, Veritas and Seagate, to major retailers including Harvey Norman, Officeworks, Coles Myer, Leading Edge stores and Dick Smith," she said.
"Our sales into the retail channel give us a true mirror of the consumer market and it has been very, very strong. These figures have shown us the advantage of basing our business model in the wider SME, SOHO and retail channel."
MYOB was unable to comment on sales due to a blackout period until financial reports are released on August 31.
Despite not being able to reach a consensus on the sales see saw, Tech Pacific and Inform both agree the pre-GST prediction that a 10 per cent price increase would result in a permanent slump in software sales is bogus.
"At the end of the day, people aren't going to stop buying software. They'll get used to the fact and the market will settle back down again," said Burnham. "Especially with upgrade sales, we'll probably have higher levels than normal because you've now got a massively increased user base."