This year is poised to become the worst in history for Thailand's notebook market, with a 20% contraction _ four times worse than the 5% slump a global research firm earlier predicted.
International Data Corporation (IDC), an IT market research company, has blamed the sharp drop in notebook sales to the country's high household debt and sluggish economy.
Tablets and smartphones have also thrived at the expense of notebooks.
At least 300 IT retail outlets have closed down this year including SoftWorld and Hardware House International chain.
Others are relocating their stores to cheaper locations, said Jarit Sidhu, a senior market analyst at IDC (Thailand).
"We are revising down our growth projection for the Thai notebook market from a contraction of 5% to a double-digit rate this year," Mr Jarit said.
Thailand's notebook sales are expected at 1.6 million units, down 20% from 2 million targeted earlier.
Mr Jarit attributed the shrinking purchasing power to the decline in farm prices, especially rubber in the South, the region notable for its adoption of IT products.
The delay in government budget spending was another factor causing the sales drop, he added.
Mr Jarit said IDC expects the local notebook market to rebound next year, helped by cyclical replacement demand.
"At least 1 million notebooks are expected to be replaced next year," he said.
Sharing his view is Narong Intanate, executive chairman of The Value Systems, a leading IT distributor.
He said the local consumer notebook market will contract by 25-30% this year, due mainly to the country's economic slowdown.
Nath Natnithikarat, chief executive of Advice Holding Group Co, another leading IT chain store, blamed the slump on the changing lifestyle and behaviour of consumers, who tend to buy smart devices at nearby IT shops rather than shopping malls.
Advice has also shut down five shops at IT shopping malls this year.
"This year looks set to be the worst for the country's IT retail industry," Mr Nath said, adding up to 350 out of 3,500 shops have been out of business.
Ekachai Sirijirapatana, president of the retail chain IT City Plc, agreed that 2013 is set to become the industry's worst year as technology is shifting to mobile devices.
But he said smartphones and tablets saw no impact from the economy.
IT City has closed down 2-3 large shops this year. Instead, it plans to open 10 small shops sized 100 square metres.
"We opened only two shops this year, compared with five normally each year," he noted.
IT City expects the proportion of sales revenue from mobile devices tol double to 30% in 2014, up from 15% this year," said Mr Ekachai.
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