Retailers have been partly saved by a spurt in sales during the last weeks of December, which saw a buoyant market for peripherals and software.
Hamish Haynes, consumer business unit manager at Compaq, said the manufacturer had seen good sales in the run-up to Christmas and a big push between Christmas and New Year.
Martin Breffit, sales director at Tiny Computers, said it had remained busy up to the Monday before Christmas. But the company's best period was the weekend immediately after Christmas, when 2,800 systems were sold.
Sales were also helped by its advertising and its sale, which began on 1 January.
Steve Bennett, MD of Software Warehouse, said the operation had enjoyed an excellent December in its retail outlets and mail-order sales had been reasonable.
Larry Smith, IBM consumer manager, admitted he had dropped prices to ensure adequate sales, but numbers were still down on expectations. He blamed this on problems with IBM's manufacturing plant. IBM was forced to withdraw its Aptiva range for three weeks in October because of problems with the monitor, which meant that two screws in the monitor could cause it to crack if mishandled. The hardware was withdrawn from sale and technicians were sent to fix those already sold.
Smith has been promoted to marketing executive of EMEA for solution developer marketing and will be replaced by Karen Sutton, previously an IBM PC account handler.
Michael Kraftman, marketing and technical director at Tempo, claimed like-for-like sales were up 50 per cent, but the average selling price of PCs was down 18 per cent. He said pre-Christmas sales tended to be mostly the cheaper items, while big sales came after Christmas. He also claimed the company made four per cent of the UK's console sales.
John Steinbrecher, chief executive of Electronics Boutique, also claimed a record Christmas with like-for-like sales up 50 per cent. The retailer predicted profits above market expectations. He also said sales were up across the board.
Steinbrecher said the biggest sellers before Christmas were consoles, but that the shortages of Sony Playstations had caused problems - many stores were sold out by lunch-time every day from the middle of December. But he said this did not benefit rival console Nintendo 64 until the last week before Christmas. Steinbrecher credited the price drops for both consoles as spurring on demand.
Nazir Jessa, managing director of Watford Electronics, said main sellers before Christmas had been games-oriented hardware like graphics cards and Sidewinder Pro joysticks. After Christmas, he said sales of peripherals such as fax modems did well.
Dixons Stores Group refused to comment as its results are due on 14 January, but the company has been plagued by rumours that it has suffered poor sales over Christmas period.
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