CONTEXT: Printer Volumes and Revenues Slump in Q1 2022 despite Business Rebound


Antonio Talia, Head of Business Analysts at CONTEXT
Antonio Talia, Head of Business Analysts at CONTEXT

Volume and value sales of printers through European distribution fell by double digits year-on-year (YoY) in the first three months of 2022, although business revenues have remained largely above the 2021 average so far this year, according to CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


CONTEXT’s latest data reveals a -29% YoY slump in unit sales for print hardware in Q1 2022 and a -10% drop in revenue. Our predicted worst-case scenario for the quarter was for a decline of -26% and -14% respectively.


“This drop was driven in part by lower demand versus a year ago, especially in the consumer market which is reaching saturation, particularly for entry-level printers. Other factors include components and raw materials shortages which are increasing lead times.


Why did revenue decline at a slower rate than volume sales? Because of a different product mix versus a year ago, and more sales of mid- and high-end devices, especially business printers”, said Antonio Talia, Head of Business Analysts at CONTEXT. “Price increases in the consumer market, driven by continued product shortages, also drove up the average selling price (ASP) of products. This was particularly noticeable for laser devices, which benefited from more sales of A3 business printers, especially laser single function peripherals.


Despite the overall decline, business revenue sales have been trending above the index 100 baseline since Week 3 of 2022, indicating improved performance versus the 2021 average. In recent weeks, the gap has widened between these and consumer sales figures, which still sit well below the baseline.


A changing product mix, with more high-end devices sold and price increases for entry-level and mid-range devices, resulted in a higher ASP and overall strong revenue performance for the business sector. The reopening of offices and IT budgets rebalanced towards office equipment are also playing their part in driving up revenue”, added Antonio.


This meant business revenues declined by just -2% YoY in Q1, versus -22% in the consumer segment. Unit sales fared worse, with business volumes slumping -13% YoY and consumer sales dropping -36% over the same period.


Country-by-country

Most of the top European countries saw revenue trend downwards in Q1, either below the 2021 or 2020 trend lines, with the exception of Poland and Italy.


Poland has seen a sharp increase since Week 12 and is now sitting above the 2021 baseline. Italy is just below last year’s curve and trending up as well. It’s benefitting from publicly funded projects, and we expect this will continue, since new public tender offers have been issued for 100,000 A4 printers (worth around €55m), which should be closed in the next couple of months.


ANP: refillable ink bottles trend upwards

Finally, CONTEXT analysed data for the average number of pages printed (ANP). This is calculated from two factors: the yield of pages printed per cartridges/tank and toners, and the units sold for these consumable products. The end result provides a measure of potential pages printed.


There was a slight YoY decrease of -0.2% in printed pages in Q1 2022, with toners, ink cartridges, and tanks very close to last year's figures. Breaking down the ANP index by consumable type, it’s clear that ink cartridges and toners are following a similar pattern. Since March, toners have been above the index baseline.


The ANP performance of refillable ink bottles has steadily trended upwards since August last year, except for a slowdown in November and December. The index reached a peak of 162 in March 2022. In fact, ink tanks are still performing exceptionally well, steadily gaining market share over inkjet cartridge printers. As a result, refillable ink bottles have also seen a consistently positive performance thus far and this is expected to continue in 2022”, concluded Antonio.


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