Stop everything! PC sales did increase in the UK over Christmas

Sell-out numbers driven by Black Friday... and Win 10

Finally some PC shipments have arrived on our desk that reveal the products customers are actually buying – and the real picture is far less negative than most other analysts’ stats state.

Both IDC and Gartner track shipments into distributors and retailers, not actual sales to punters, and after a sustained period of channel stuffing it is not surprising those sellers refused to take in more deliveries in Q4.

In contrast, Context is fed data by members of the Global Technology Distribution Council about the computing gear they sell to punters – and in the UK Christmas quarter they were up 9.9 per cent to 1.3m units.

“We saw a strong push ahead of Black Friday,” said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at the channel beancounter.

Notebooks jumped 15.5 per cent to 999k units, desktops declined 7.6 per cent to 254k, and mobile workstations went up 30.5 per cent to 3,300.

The portable PC bounce was fuelled by consumers, particularly those shopping for convertible and detachable form factors. The desktop suffered thanks to a relatively strong comparison period a year ago.

Windows 10 Home-based machines accounted for 78 per cent of retail PC sales and the OS was running on 35 per cent of business machines, Context told us.

Pygott said currency played a positive role in the local PC market uplift because channel sellers took advantage of the comparatively weak Euro to source product on the continent.

The “lower pricing” stimulated some demand, she added. “The UK consumer segment was very competitive – online and [bricks & mortar] retailers – lots of price promotions”.

An appreciating US dollar actually put pressure on American vendors to raise price to maintain their margins, and though Britain was not exposed to this in the same way as the Euro Zone, some prices went up earlier in the year.

Pygott agreed there had been a stock issue but said vendors were well on their way to “depleting” inventory to more manageable levels. Context did not yet have sale-in figures – vendors to distributors/ retailers.

The UK was the best performing market in Western Europe – across the wider region, sales were ostensibly flat year-on-year at 6.5 million units, the numbers revealed. ®

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