Fewer computers, TV sets and cameras flew off the shelves here in the first seven months of the year as Singapore consumers ran out of new things to buy.
This is the second time in two years that sales in these products have dropped, as retailers here grapple with a softening market.
This is also the industry's first continuing decline in six years, said market research firm GfK Asia, which measures actual sales at local retailers, including the major players.
From January to July, around 2.4 million computers, TV sets and cameras worth $936 million were sold. This is a 17 per cent drop compared with the 2.9 million units sold for $68 million more in the same period a year ago. During 2011's first seven months, retailers here sold 3.2 million units worth $1.06 billion.
But sales of smartphones and other telecommunication devices bucked the trend. Over 1.3 million units, worth $388 million, were snapped up in the first seven months of the year, said GfK, an increase on 1.2 million units sold for $329 million in the same period last year.
One IT distributor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the fall in sales for products like computers and TV sets as "the worst since the last recession in 2008". He said sales got worse in the last three months.
"The last growth spurt for computers was in 2012," he said, pointing out that was when gamers upgraded their hardware for the launch of Diablo 3, a popular computer game.
The Straits Times understands that the last major replacement cycle for television sets was in 2010, when StarHub screened all 64 football matches of the Fifa World Cup in high-definition (HD). That year, many consumers bought large-screen, full-HD TV sets measuring at 40 inches or more.