CIPA has released the camera and lens shipment figures for the first three quarters of 20212 and they do not augur well for product availability for the last quarter, with shipments in September dropping well below September 2020 levels and at less than half of 2019 levels.
This follows a period in which it looked as if production was ramping up after Covid disruption, and that the industry was getting on top of its supply challenges. Reporting on July CIPA figures we wrote: ‘July production figures show an encouraging uptick over the previous month. It may be that the camera manufacturers are on the path towards overcoming supply-side problems, which include a shortage of components and widespread disruption to international shipping.
Our optimism was unjustified. The alert from Australia’s leading photographic distributor, CR Kennedy & Co, that there will be continued shortages of popular products and widespread price increases, reflects the looming reality. ‘This year it is not a question of price, but rather a question of supply; of actually being able to source what you want and in time,’ CR Kennedy managing director told Inside Imaging last month.
Shipments across the board – compacts, mirrorless and DSLRs – are way down in September compared to the same month last year, which of course was mired in Coronavirus lockdowns around the world.
Production figures provide no relief for supply shortages moving into the last quarter and early 2022 – overall they stood at 69 percent of September 2020 levels. Mirrorless camera production is down close to 20 percent compared to September 2020 (and not within coo’ee of 2019). Either photography has lost about half its supporters over the past two years, or prospective customers are going to find it harder to track down popular camera bodies and lenses well into next year.
Lens shipments are a little more promising. They are up slightly compared to the previous month and, thanks to heightened activity through the middle of the year, over 17 percent better than the miserable 2020 figures for Jan – September. Within the lens figures, lens shipments ‘for smaller than 35mm format cameras’ – M43 and APS-C – are dropping off dramatically. Lenses for full frame and above are up 36 percent by volume and 56 percent by value on the first three quarters of 2020.
The figures for September 2021 production are higher than September shipments, which just might help in relieving supply shortages in this category moving, as they say, forward…