While consumers in Europe are struggling with the effects of the recession, Germany is a bright spot in electronic devices spending, industry executives said on Wednesday at the opening of Europe's largest consumer electronics trade show IFA.
According to research firm GfK, consumers in Western Europe spent 41 billion euros ($58.4 billion) on technical consumer goods in the second quarter of 2009, down 9.2 percent from the same period last year and continuing the trend from the first quarter when spending was down 8 percent year-on-year.
Germany has a special position in Europe. In the first half year decline in spending was 1.6 percent and for the full year we also expect a decline in that same area, said Rainer Hecker, chairman of the industry body Gesellshaft fur Unterhaltungs- und Kommunikationselektronik (GFU).
Sales in Germany are driven by household goods, such as washing machines and kitchen appliances, said Reinhard Zinkann, chairman of the Home appliances division of German industry group ZVEI.
Zinkann signaled sharp declines in European household goods sales, with no recovery yet but he said there may be some signs that the bottom has been reached.
In Germany, sales of household goods were up 4 percent by the end of June, while for the year a 3 percent rise is anticipated.
Zinkann said products for preparing food such as blenders, mixers and processors were growing,
More is happening at home, Zinkann said, adding that energy efficient equipment was also a hot topic and that this would remain so in the coming years.
IFA, which was launched in 1924, last year added home appliances, ranging from washing machines and dishwashers to electric razors and blow dryers, to its product range.
The fair opens its doors to the public on Friday and runs until September 9. Organizers are expecting more than 1,200 exhibitors from some 60 countries.
Companies exhibiting at IFA include electronics makers LG, Samsung, Sharp and Sony, as well as navigation device maker TomTom, Acer and Europe's largest consumer electronics producer Philips.