• Alain Godet

Covid-19 Drives Smart Working Demand in Italy

Isabel Aranda, CONTEXT Country Manager for Italy

The IT distribution channel in Italy has registered strong growth in January and February this year with some smart working categories driven by the nationwide lockdown, according to new data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. The distribution channel recorded outstanding performance of 12.5% growth in the first two months of the year versus the same time in 2019. In February the year-on-year growth was 16%. Italy was an early casualty of the Covid-19 virus that’s sweeping the globe and this week the government announced a country-wide quarantine that includes a ban on non-essential travel and public gatherings, limited opening hours for some businesses and school closures. However, demand for tools to enable smart working and homeschooling has helped to drive a 362% year-on-year revenue growth in February for the headset/headphones and microphones category. For the week beginning 24 February the year-on-year increase was 49.8% Other notable year-on-year revenue increases in the same week came in notebooks (36.5%), tablets (41.3%), Office application software (60.5%), developer tools software (89.3%), and SSDs (32%). Also recording significant growth were security software (38.8%) and ink cartridges (8%). As a result, year-on-year growth for the last two weeks in February stood at 21% and 20% respectively across all categories. Both the Small and Medium Reseller (SMR) and Retail Chain channels registered important increases in February 2020 versus the previous year, especially at the end of the month. For SMRs, growth reached 30.9% in the final week of the month, while Retail Chain players saw 72.4% growth in the week beginning 17 February. However, after reaching a peak in the week beginning 17 February, year-on-year distribution growth in Italy has started to soften. A tipping point may have been reached in terms of supply, at least in headsets/microphones category. Unit sales growth went from 282% in the week beginning 17 February to just 1.5% in the week beginning 24 February. “Despite uncertainties about the economic impact of Covid-19 in Italy, IT Vendors and distributors are adapting with an impressive speed to the new business environment in order to support customer productivity and protect public health”, said Isabel Aranda, CONTEXT Country Manager for Italy. “Smart working tools are key to helping businesses and education sector organisations cope with these remarkable circumstances. These categories will likely continue to be in high demand as the lockdown continues.