Canadians spent nearly $3.2 billion on technology products in the first four months of 2010, down two per cent from the previous year, according to a recent report from The NPD Group.

Researchers say revenues exhibited growth in the information technology (IT) segment, while consumer electronics remained almost flat and video games experienced a sharp decline. Revenues in the small domestic appliance (SDA) segment, an extension of the technology industry, also remained flat during the period.

From January 1st to April 30th, 2010, Canadians purchased more than 27 million IT products – six per cent lower than the same period the year before – at an average price of $52 per unit. Among the most popular items were notebook computers, notebook accessories and external hard drives, all of which sold more than 20 per cent more units than the previous year and contributed to positive revenue growth for the overall IT segment.

“The fact that computers and IT products are leading the technology industry towards recovery is a telling sign,” said Darrel Ryce, Director, Information Technology & Entertainment, The NPD Group. “Canadians have grown so accustomed to their computers and constant connectivity that IT products are no longer viewed as optional purchases. This most recent data shows that even during periods of economic uncertainty, Canadians are willing to upgrade or replace these products.”

Sales within the IT segment were slightly stronger than those in consumer electronics, which saw a modest decrease of one per cent in year-over-year revenue for the period. The consumer electronics segment continues to be fuelled by sales of home video products, particularly next-generation DVD players, televisions and camcorders where unit sales were up 56 per cent, 20 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

Revenues in the small domestic appliance (SDA) segment remained flat for the period, with decreases in sales of personal electrics (men’s trimmers, curling irons, hair dryers, etc.) and vacuum cleaners, offset by increases in sales of kitchen electrics (blenders, coffee makers, toasters, etc.) and microwave ovens.

“Consumer confidence is still very fragile. Since reaching its post-recession peak in January, the consumer confidence index has moved erratically, signalling that consumers are less than certain about their future prospects,” said Ryce. “The fact that Canadians continue to invest in small kitchen appliances, such as microwave ovens and skillets, may be an indicator that people intend to continue dining and entertaining within the home as a means to save money.”

Hit hardest during the first four months of the year was the gaming segment, with overall video game hardware, software and accessories experiencing a seven per cent decrease in unit sales, and double-digit decline in revenue (-15 per cent). Consumers may be signalling that existing consoles have run their course in terms of adoption rates and that Canadians are ready for the introduction of next-generation hardware.