A big drop in the price of laptops helped lift electronics sales in the UAE by nearly 20 per cent last year as shoppers in the Emirates splashed out Dh12.7 billion (US$3.45bn) on electronic goods.
The latest data from the consultancy GfK Retail and Technology show sales of electronic goods in the UAE, including cameras, mobile phones, laptops, office equipment and appliances, were up 19.6 per cent from 2009.
The biggest sellers were information technology products including laptops, with sales up by 24.9 per cent over 2009 to a total of Dh3.2bn.
Netbooks, which have fewer capabilities and are more affordable than laptops, were hot items for UAE consumers throughout the year. But as laptop prices fell last year, consumers spent more, said Kevin Ribeiro, the business group manager at GfK.
"They're making it so attractive with the new features for same price paid before, and even cheaper," Mr Ribeiro said.
Sales of netbooks rose by 45 per cent last year from 2009, while laptop sales rose by 26 per cent, he said.
Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer at Jacky's Electronics, said the average price of a laptop had "crashed". Laptops were now available for Dh1,999, slightly more than netbooks, Mr Panjabi said.
"So you have people who maybe would not have upgraded, but if it's Dh2,000 would upgrade now instead of waiting for a year," he said.
Mobile phones and other telecommunications devices were the second-biggest sellers last year, reaching Dh3.2bn, a 19.6 per cent increase over 2009, GfK said.
Smartphones, such as BlackBerrys and iPhones, were also popular buys. Sales rose by 121 per cent last year from 2009, Mr Ribeiro said. But the growth in value was lower, as retailers and makers also cut prices on these devices.
UAE consumers spent Dh191 million on smartphones last year, 93 per cent more than in 2009. Smartphone prices fell by 13 per cent last year, while the cost of the average mobile phone was down by 25 per cent, Mr Ribeiro said.
This enticed consumers to upgrade their phones or buy additional smartphones, Mr Panjabi said.
"If you look at the price of BlackBerrys, they are now going for below Dh1,000," he said. "This is a big difference from the price, then, of Dh2,500 or Dh3,000 … a person with a smartphone and a mobile may now be carrying two smartphones around."
Sales were up across all segments of electronic goods in a strong recovery from 2009.
Sales of consumer electronics, such as flat-screen televisions, reached Dh2.6bn last year, up 16.8 per cent from 2009.
Major domestic appliance sales grew by 19.6 per cent to Dh1.1bn in the period, and small domestic appliances by 14.6 per cent to Dh1.4bn.
Photo equipment sales grew by 16.8 per cent last year to Dh676m. Office equipment sales reached Dh249m, up 18.6 per cent from 2009.