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Printer hardware sales suffer Q1 dip

The industry always suffers a slow start to the year and 2019 has been no different according to analysis from Context

The first quarter is traditionally a slow one in the printer world and it has proved to be so again this year with sales flowing through distribution dropping sharply in Q1 across Western Europe.

There had been some momentum in the printer world going into this year but the seasonal variations have struck again with Context charting a decline in shipments.

Sales of printer hardware sold through distribution in Western Europe was down 4.2% year on year in Q1 with a decline in demand for inkjet multifunction devices (MFDs) partly to blame, down by 3.4%, compared to sales of laser alternatives climbing by 4.6%.

Single function printers suffered the most with a 13.6% decrease, which helped the overall market stutter in the first quarter and the product category is set for further setbacks as customers move towards MFD products.

“This is not a surprise: the first quarter is, historically, the weakest of the year – and it is usually followed by a weak second quarter”, said Antonio Talia, head of business analysts at Context.

Brexit uncertainty was one of the factors influencing the performance of the UK market with Q1 reversing what had been a positive trend in 2018  with sales in both consumer and business segments both dropping significantly leading to a 6.2% drop in units shipped and a 7.3% decline in revenues.

The bright spot for the channel is the increasing desire by customers to take up managed print services and Context is expecting that trend to continue.

“Over the next one or two years, we expect to see relatively fast growth in sales of production-standard inkjets, wide-format printers (both digital and inkjet), and digital toner-based devices”, added Talia. “However, the five-specific print-market segments that are likely grow at a relatively higher rate are packaging and specialty packaging, labels and wrappers, signage, direct mail and point-of-purchase.”

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