Worldwide shipments of PCs will fall this year by 1.6 per cent to 129.6 million units from last year's figure of 131.7 million units, largely because of sharply lower sales of consumer PCs in the US and Japan, according to a report issued Tuesday by market analyst International Data Corp (IDC). IDC said that poor economic conditions worldwide were the main reason for falling sales, and said it did not expect the release of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system to have a stimulating effect on the market. Instead of the anticipated recovery in the second quarter, consumer PC shipments in the US fell 17 per cent compared to the first quarter. Consumer PC sales in the U.S. this year will reach 14.1 million units, 25 per cent lower than last year's 18.9 million units. Sales of commercial PCs will also fall, by 5.2 per cent to 28 million units from last year's 29.5 million units. This will result in total sales of PCs in the US being 13 per cent lower than last year. IDC said the malaise would continue into next year, with consumer PC shipments falling a further 17.8 per cent in 2002, and commercial PC shipments showing small growth of 2.8 per cent. Overall, IDC expects US PC shipments in 2002 to reach 40.4 million, 17 per cent lower than in 2000. Even in 2003, the overall number of PCs sold in the US will only just be greater than in 1999, IDC said. Outside the U.S., sales of consumer PCs will be flat this year at 30 million, after recording 39 per cent growth from 1999 to 2000. Sales of commercial PCs will rise by 7.8 per cent outside the US this year. Sales growth in the commercial sector is slow as there is a large base of fairly powerful computers installed and a relative lack of processor-hungry applications, so that many businesses are postponing PC upgrades and new purchases, IDC said. The worldwide PC market will rebound next year, thanks to sales in non-US markets, and grow 6.9 per cent to a total of 138.6 million units, IDC said. IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group, the parent company of Digit magazine.