Supermarkets and other non-specialist retailers have grown their annual share of the accessories market from £11.7m to £26.5m over the past year.
Last month, non-specialists were responsible for 25% of all mobile accessories sales, compared with less than 10% for the same period in 2007, according to figures from market research specialist GfK.
Seven million accessories were sold last year, to a value of £117m, compared with 6.8 million this year, worth £106m.
The decreasing value of the market has been attributed to the buying power of the supermarkets, which enables them to sell a greater volume of accessories at a reduced price.
Average prices have dropped by more than £1 per unit over the last 12 months. One industry expert said: ‘The telecoms specialists - including the networks and major retailers - may not be too worried about these figures, as they are increasingly bundling their accessories with handsets for free.’
One senior accessories distribution source drew comparisons with changes that occurred in the DVD and CD markets, where supermarkets encroached on independent retailers’ territory by concentrating on a limited range of products. ‘They’ve got the footfall, and now they are getting the growth.’
Supermarkets have concentrated on the top four selling products, which are handsfree kits, cases, car cigarette lighter adapters and battery chargers.
Industry sources say that they expect non-specialists to gradually build on the range of accessories offered as their market share increases.
Meanwhile, the supermarkets have held their gains in prepay handset sales. Of the 1.31 million devices sold in the UK in June, 46% were sold by non-specialist retailers. This figure rose steadily last year from 39% in March 2007 to 47% in March 2008.
But supermarkets continue to struggle to break into the contract market, with less than 1% of customers connected through non-specialist retailers last month.