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Europe's home PC buyers reach for their collective smartphone, sigh: We don't need a new desktop. This is a computer, right?

UK personal sales drop whopping 17.6%, Windows saves day for biz

A general fall in consumer PC sales across Western Europe was particularly marked in the UK, where confidence is "low amidst Brexit-related uncertainty" and sales to consumers dropped by a whopping 17.6 per cent in calendar Q1.


Intel shortages, weak-ass consumer spending, 'peak' Win10 refresh. No, global PC market didn't grow in Q1


This is according to analysts at Context, which tracks the sales numbers of all the major distributors. The outfit said it had seen an overall 2.4 per cent dip in volume sales across the consumer and commercial segments in Western Europe.

The number-cruncher noted a clear split between the two, however.

While consumers tugged even harder on their purse strings, seeing little reason to buy a new home PCs, commercial demand managed to hold steady, except in Spain and the Netherlands, where it was down 6.6 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. For the close to flat line on business volumes, disties can thank Microsoft's relentless OS cycling. Good old end of Windows 7 support early next year drove up demand, said the analyst – echoing similar sentiments from Gartner last week. Initiatives to modernise workplaces also played their part.

Volume sales of business PCs were up 4.6 per cent on last year, sales of notebooks increased by 6.6 per cent and desktops were up 0.6 per cent. The only real bright spot was an increase in workstation sales, which the analyst noted "has been ongoing for quite some time now", continuing with an 11.3 per cent uptick in mobile systems and a 4.9 per cent rise in sales of stationary units.

Overall, consumer PC sales were down 11.3 per cent in Europe as people continue to move towards using their smartphones for the sort of tasks you'd normally want an actual PC for. Notebook sales are also down 12.1 per cent, with desktops dipping 7.6 per cent.

European disties turned over €3bn in revenues in the quarter, only very slightly up on last year's €2.9bn, while in the UK kit-flingers clocked up £467m, up 3.5 per cent on last year's £451m. The average selling price (ASP) for UK units was £526 and for Western Europe €617. The volumes of actual kit shifted was down in both regions.

Specifically on our fair islands, the UK disties shifted 900,000 desktop, notebook and workstation units, down 4.4 per cent year-on-year. Across Western Europe, distributors shifted 4.9 million units, down 2 per cent on the first quarter of last year.

The top five PC vendors in UK distribution – across both business and consumer segments – were HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple, and Asus, which shifted 55.6 per cent more kit in the quarter off the back of strong decline in the year before. Apple jumped to third place in the revenue stakes, as you would imagine, due to rising ASPs.

The ASP uptick carried over into the rest of the market, which a Context senior analyst described as "healthier in revenue terms than in volume terms". The growth was driven by a product mix shift to higher-end products such as premium notebooks, ultra-slim notebooks and workstations.

HP and Lenovo also topped the Big Five PC vendor list in Western Europe, with Apple Asus and Dell trailing behind. There were no numbers given with the vendor breakdown.

Market intel-ligence

As for the Intel CPU shortages – they smacked some harder than others. The analyst outfit noted that while disties were busting some choppy Chipzilla-led dance moves to deal with stronger-than-usual fluctuations in stock movements –  and vendors were franticly steering demand to available supply – the impact varied from vendor to vendor. However, there was some happy news in there for chip-flingers at AMD, which lapped up some short term love from vendors. The analyst noted that kitmakers started adding "more AMD-based PCs to their portfolios" to provide an alternative offering.

Q1-19 Y/Y PC volume growth in distribution

  Consumer PCs Commercial PCs
Germany -19.2% 7.6%
United Kingdom -17.6% 4.0%
Italy -5.8% 16.4%
Spain -4.1% -6.6%
France -11.0% 2.2%
Poland -15.6% -0.9%
Netherlands -15.4% -7.0%
Switzerland -9.2% -2.4%
Sweden -2.1% 7.4%
Denmark -12.0% 17.3%
Portugal -5.8% 20.1%
Austria -18.5% 15.4%
Ireland 0.5% 22.0%

All data are volume sales (or revenues) through Western Europe or UK distribution – the analyst outfit does not tally up direct sales from vendors to end users or sales from vendors to retailers, for example. ®

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