The times when PC sales were sky high and seemingly unaffected by the credit crisis have come to an end with the industry taking a beating from the current global economic crisis.

“Although consumers around the world started to feel the full impact of the credit crisis in the third quarter of 2008, this phenomenon didn’t negatively impact PC sales,” observed Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for computer platforms at iSuppli.

According to iSuppli, in the fourth quarter of 2008 the PC market succumbed to the economic reality with the decreased demand resulting in a 1.5 percent decline in the number of shipments from 79.1 million down to 77.9 million.

“The impact of the credit crunch is clearly apparent in the PC shipments, given that the historical average for sequential fourth-quarter PC growth is in the region of 10 percent,” Wilkins added.

The sparse available credit means less money for both business and consumers leaving less money available to spend on PC purchases.

Despite the lower than expected sales in the fourth quarter of 2008; Netbooks continue to drive the growth in sales. The full-year 2008 shipments yielded impressive growth of 11.6 percent, reaching 299.4 million units, up from 268.4 million in 2007. This compares to 12.4 percent growth in 2007.

iSuppli expects a unit growth of 0.7 percent.