Despite the proliferation of online retail operations, Australia's favourite IT bricks-and-mortar juggernaut claims it is digesting a frantic Christmas trading season.
John Slack-Smith, Harvey Norman's computers and communications general manager, described December as a `record month' for the company, estimating an increase in sales of 30 per cent on December 1998.
`We sold more PCs in December than we have ever done in a month,' he said. HN was still finalising the exact sales figures at the time of going to press. However, based on the division's 1998 turnover of $566 million, it is estimated the company is likely to have brought in over $55 million.
Slack-Smith said PC hardware dominates HN's computers and communications sales, with Hewlett-Packard, Packard Bell and IBM leading the charge, indicating the retailer has not suffered from the loss of Compaq from its shelves.
While PC peripheral sales benefited from the sales bonanza, Slack-Smith said gaming software sales also returned higher figures than expected in the face of competition from PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.
Another star performer for the company was mobile phone handsets. `We could not get our hands on enough mobiles,' he said. `This was the year of the pre-paid contract mobile phone.'
Y2K, as for so many Australian companies, was a non-event for HN's own systems. From the sales perspective, Slack-Smith reported the majority of consumers were far from worried about its potential impact on new equipment.
`People were thinking [about] Y2K for existing machines but new products sold off the shelf were not a problem,' he said.
Slack-Smith said constant media attention on the subject had contributed to customer confidence.