PC shipments will fall 11.9 percent in 2009, their sharpest fall ever, with sales in emerging markets contracting for the first time, research firm Gartner said on Monday.

The global PC industry was resilient for most of last year when other technology sectors were ailing, but it too has now been caught up in the deepening economic downturn that has sapped demand from consumers and corporate buyers.

Gartner said it expected PC sales to fall 11.9 percent in 2009 to 257 million computers, with sales of desktops falling 32 percent from last year and sales of laptops rising 9 percent.

The PC market's previous sharpest fall was a 3.2-percent drop in 2001.

Sales in emerging markets are seen shrinking 10.4 percent, Gartner said. Thus far the slowest year for those markets has been 11.1 percent growth in 2002.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by David Cowell)