Dramatic changes to working routines, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, have driven up channel revenue in some categories over recent weeks, according to CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. Following Italy’s lead, many European governments including those of France, Spain, Germany and the UK have imposed strict lockdowns restricting citizens’ freedom of movement over recent weeks. These include the closure of all cafes, restaurants and bars as well as shops selling non-essential items. In many countries, citizens have been urged only to travel to “essential work” that cannot be done at home, in an attempt to further limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. The impact on channel revenue sales is already showing in IT distribution figures for the eight weeks to March 15, versus the same time a year ago, according to CONTEXT. Among the biggest growth categories across the region were audio video systems (57%), desktop computing (21%), while computing components was the one notable casualty, declining 8%. Within AV systems, revenue from sales of headsets/headphones and microphones — essential kit for home workers wishing to join conference calls — grew into the triple digits in many countries including: Italy (292%); Portugal (252%); Finland (163%); Austria (144%); Switzerland (136%); Germany (125%); Spain (114%); and Belgium (108%). In the same category, digital media player sales didn’t do quite as well, recording an overall decline of 8% in the region, including bigger slumps in Italy (40%), Austria (55%) and Finland (21%). In the smart home, the sub-category of “smart security, access control and assisted living” (+85%) fared better than smart speakers (-20%) across the region. However, while there were major year-on-year revenue increases for security in France (1396%) and Spain (5529%). Both desktops (22%) and desktop workstations (16%) recorded impressive year-on-year revenue growth across Western Europe. Desktops grew strongest in Germany (44%), Austria (41%) and Norway (59%), while workstations only showed major declines in Portugal (25%), Finland (20%), and Norway (55%). Several of the other categories that have seen strong regional sales in the past eight weeks also have a strong home working angle. They are: solid state drives (16%); telephony and conference systems (17%); VoIP accessories (16%); uninterruptable power supplies (15%); and smart watches (21%). “IT channel businesses have met a growing demand for products enabling home and remote working as employees were put into lockdown across much of Europe over the past two months”, said Howard Davies, CEO of CONTEXT. “We can see how quickly the situation is changing in each country, which is why we have introduced the new weekly COVID-19 index which can be downloaded from our website.” These figures are drawn from the first COVID-19 index, revealing the most in-demand IT categories country-by-country.
Howard Davies, CEO of CONTEXT