The CIPA January 2020 report is out, and it doesn't paint a very flattering picture of the state of the camera market. CIPA reports on the sales of Interchangeable Lens DSC (Digital Still Cameras), Built-in Lens DSC and total DSC, releasing a report each month that compares sales to the previous year.
Interchangeable Lens DSC includes enthusiast and professional cameras, measuring the sales of anything from the Nikon D3500 to the Canon EOS Ra. In January 2019, Interchangeable Lens DSC sales scraped 546,188. However, in January 2020 these have fallen by around 100,000 to just 446,330.
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CIPA's report of the sales of Built-in Lens DSC tells a similar story. This statistic will cover cameras such as the compact camera Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II and the bridge camera Nikon P950, where the lenses aren't removable. Built-in Lens DSC sales have fallen from January 2019's 455,210 to January 2020's 358,316.
Altogether, overall DSC sales have fallen by almost 200,000 when comparing January of this year to last year. However, the one small silver lining that camera manufacturers might be able to find is that the drop isn't as dramatic as the one from January 2018 to January 2019, which clocked in at a painful deficit of 339,094.
So what could be causing camera sales to bottom out like this? There are likely to be multiple factors. Compact cameras have famously struggled ever since the advent of the camera phone. However, it's interesting that interchangeable lens cameras are also experiencing difficulty. We're dubious that camera phones could pose any serious threat to the likes of the Nikon D850 or Sony A9 – or even more beginner-focused cameras such as the Canon EOS 2000D / Canon Rebel T7.
What could instead be happening is a consumer reaction to the market being oversaturated with choice. Cameras are very expensive pieces of equipment – with even the cheapest options guaranteed to burn a £200 / $200 hole in your pocket. Not everyone is able to constantly upgrade, especially when the most impressive technological advances have already been made and they feel that they're only going to get a bit more megapixel bang for their buck.
In the same vein, it would be interesting to know how the second-hand camera market is performing. With camera technology being as impressive as it is, perhaps consumers are happier buying a Fujifilm X-T3 secondhand, rather than instantly pre-ordering a Fujifilm X-T4.
This CIPA report isn't a particularly positive beginning to the year, but unfortunately there are indications that it could only get worse. With global concern about coronavirus growing, there have been multiple reports of factories closing due to supply shortages. It remains to be seen how this will affect cameras and lenses reaching consumers.
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