New York, NY, 04/22/2021
One year after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, lockdowns and other restrictions around the world continue to drive demand for IT products – especially notebook PCs, which remain essential for working and learning from home.
Early on in the pandemic, GfK global sales data (excluding North America) showed that, while other tech categories were experiencing a profound decline in March 2020, IT sales boomed, with Notebook sales posting a 43% YOY increase.
Notebook PCs meet extraordinary success
As a crucial element of consumers’ work- and learn-at-home realities during lockdown, notebook PCs (a.k.a. laptops) experienced remarkable demand in 2020 – a trend that continues into 2021. In the five largest European countries (UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain), notebooks continued to show strong sales in the first ten weeks of 2021, with unit volume up 12%. Dollar sales increased 28%, as prices rose amid sustained shortages and an evident shift towards premium-priced notebooks. Sensing that home-based work and school would become long-term situations, consumers looked to also invest in better machines, driving growth.
“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on IT sales, changing consumer behavior for the long term,” says Josh Wanderman, GfK´s Vice President of Global Market Insights. “The fast-tracked investment in technology will stay with us in the months to come.”
E-commerce is boosted by lockdowns, but consumers
remain loyal to trusted retailers
With markets shifting from demand-driven to supply-driven, growth dynamics are relying even more heavily on the industry’s ability to get the right products to consumers at the right time. COVID-19 disrupted consumers’ preferred purchasing channels. “The boost to the e-commerce channel driven by lockdowns is here to stay, as consumers continue to favor online purchasing,” concludes Wanderman.
But the biggest winners in the top five European markets were not the pure online players, who grew notebook sales at a strong +35% in 2020 versus 2019. Rather, it was the online shops of traditional retail that outperformed the market during the lockdown, with a +118% jump. Many consumers remained loyal to their known physical retailers when they were forced to move their shopping online. In fact, this growth of physical retailers’ online sales continues into 2021, with rates of +240% during the first ten weeks of this year with fresh lockdowns and high demand for notebooks.
“In the lockdown environment, we have seen the buy-online-and-pickup-in-store channel show unprecedented growth, as consumers favor this approach as a way to get what they want, when they want it,” said Wanderman.
Where do tech sales go from here?
“As long as contact restrictions are in place and the economic recovery across the globe continues, strong demand -- especially for IT -- will continue to shape the tech retail landscape,” Wanderman observed. “We expect this strength to continue in the early part of the year – though a high success rate for vaccinations will likely cause declines compared to 2020’s unprecedented performance, as restrictions are lifted and the focus shifts away from staying home."
Note to editors
As part of its retail panel, GfK regularly collects sales data in more than 70 countries worldwide for products in the consumer electronics, photo, telecommunications, information technology, office equipment, and major and small domestic appliance segments. Data for North America are based on estimates.
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