The worldwide shipments of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad are expected to drop in the first quarter of 2014 while the growth of the overall tablet market is also estimated to suffer significant decline during the period, according to a new report.

The worldwide shipments of tablets are likely to drop 15 percent to 20 percent during the three-month period ending in March, because of off-peak season effects, Digitimes Research has estimated, citing Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

While the report estimated that Apple’s iPad could suffer a decline of 22.7 percent with shipments reaching to 18 million units in the first quarter from 26 million units in the previous quarter, makers in the iPad supply chain are optimistic about the tablet sales, expecting total iPad shipments to hit 20 million units in the first quarter.

According to WitsView, a Taiwan-based LCD market research firm, Apple purchased 30.3 million flat panels for iPads in the fourth quarter of 2013, which include 6 million panels for iPad mini, 7.49 million for Retina iPad mini and 17 million for 9.7-inch iPad.

The research firm also said that for the first quarter of 2014, Apple is expected to purchase a total of 25.8 million units of iPad display panels -- 4.4 million for iPad mini, 7.4 million for Retina iPad mini and 14 million for 9.7-inch models.

International Data Corp. reported last week that Apple was the leading tablet vendor in the fourth quarter of 2013 with the company’s worldwide market share grew to  33.8 percent, up from 29.7 percent in the third quarter.

According to IDC, the overall tablet market saw a strong holiday quarter as shipments grew to 76.9 million units during the period, accounting for a 62.4 percent growth over the previous quarter.

Although the market's growth rates remained impressive, they were down dramatically compared to annual growth rates seen in the same quarter last year (87.1 percent), indicating a significant slowing of the overall market.