Research firm Gartner just released its estimates for PC shipments in the Western Europe region during the holiday quarter, and only Apple and Asus made any meaningful progress, with Apple recording the strongest gains in France and the United Kingdom.

While the Mac maker remained absent from the Top 5 rankings in Western Europe and Germany, it was a sole first-tier PC brand to grow sales in the United Kingdom during the holiday quarter. Specifically, Apple’s Mac business in the country grew 17.2 percent, enough to rank fourth with a 9.1 percent market share.

Everyone else’s business shrunk: Hewlett-Packard (No. 1) was down 27 percent, Dell (No. 4) declined by a whopping 32.2-percent, Toshiba (No. 3) fell 5.4-percent and Acer (No. 5) was by far the biggest loser with a 62.4-percent year-over-year decline. The same story is in France where Apple placed No. 5 by growing 15.3-percent for an 8.2-percent market share. Only Asus (No. 2) grew slightly faster than Apple at 17.4-percent, while shipments of PC desktops and notebooks from HP, Acer, and Dell plummeted.

If you include the iPad, Apple easily beats its rivals to the PC punch across the board.

More notes and charts are after the break.

Shipments of notebook and desktop PCs in the United Kingdom. Source: Gartner, February 2012

Shipments of PCs in Western Europe are in slump four quarters in a row now as consumers are increasingly picking up smartphones, media tablets and e-readers and postponing PC purchases and upgrades. Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain were hit worst, with PC sales plummeting 30 percent. It is important to point out that Gartner’s data covers desktop and notebook PC shipments, excluding iPads and other tablets. With that in mind, Apple’s growth in the U.K. and France is even more telling. Desktop sales in Western Europe decreased 12.1-percent and notebooks shrank 17.5-percent.

Shipments to the professional segment fell 13.5-percent and the consumer segment declined 18 percent. Explaining Apple’s seemingly unstoppable march, Gartner’s research director Ranjit Atwal said:

The UK market has been a prime illustration of the underlying weakness in PC demand across Western Europe. […] PC vendors face a long, uphill struggle to regain the interest of consumers. The introduction of Ultrabooks in late 2011 is desperately needed.

Shipments of notebook and desktop PCs in France. Source: Gartner, February 2012

Shipments of notebook and desktop PCs in Germany. Source: Gartner, February 2012

Shipments of notebook and desktop PCs in Western Europe. Source: Gartner, February 2012

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