Currys boss: Smart speaker sales have fallen off a cliffon July 6, 2023 at 10:30 am

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Sales of appliances and electronics drop as customers struggle with cost of living, retailer says.

Smart speaker on a deskImage source, Getty Images

Sales of smart speakers have “fallen off a cliff” as customers cut back and trade down on electrical items, the boss of Currys has said.

Sales overall fell 7% in the year to 29 April as people bought cheaper goods due to the rising cost of living.

Shoppers also bought more products on credit to spread their costs.

“People aren’t as interested in Amazon Alexa as they used to be,” managing director Alex Baldock told the BBC’s Today programme.

Mr Baldock said that shoppers were “being careful with their money”.

He said some shoppers were also trading down to buy lower value items.

These included TVs and smaller kitchen appliances like kettles, where an entry level product still “boils water for you”.

The retail chain said it was “wary of optimism about consumer spending power” in the coming year.

It also said more of its customers were using credit to buy more expensive products. Nearly 18% of goods at the chain were bought on credit this year, compared with 13% last year.

“Credit has never been more important for customers than during a cost of living crisis,” the retailer said.

People were also using credit if they thought it could save them money in the long term on items like washing machines, a spokesman said.

These use less energy, which was important for people as bills soared.

Customers were choosing more energy-efficient products because they were aware this is better for the environment too, he added.

Shares in the retailer dropped more than 7% after it said that it was wary about the prospects for consumer demand bouncing back.

Struggling households have been hammered by rising prices over the past few years as food, energy and fuel costs have soared.

To battle inflation, the Bank of England has been hiking interest rates – but this has been putting more pressure on people with big loans, such as mortgages.

However, the pace of general price rises has not eased as much as had been hoped, leading to predictions of more interest rate hikes.

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