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Sales of peripheral devices surge as workers stay at home

Monitors, keyboards and mice are all in high demand as workers get set up for remote working to slow the spread of coronavirus

The mass movement by workers to work from home in response to the coronavirus outbreak has sparked increased sales of an array of products that underpin remote working.

Those selling remote working and collaboration solutions have seen demand shoot up over the past couple of weeks, and a similar impact is being felt in the hardware world.

Figures from GfK showed that in the week ending 14 March, when a large number of offices started to close their doors, sales of a range of products were up by double digits, compared with the same week last year.

Monitors led the charge, with the number selling that week doubling compared with just seven days earlier. Year-on-year unit volumes increased by 133.9% and value improved by 132.2%.

Keyboard sales were up by 68.8% in terms of value growth, while mouse sales increased by just shy of 30%.

Customers were also spending on networking equipment as they took steps to ensure their staff were able to connect and collaborate.

Kelly Whitwick, UK retail lead for market insights at GfK, said sales had ramped up after it became clear that people were being advised to work from home.

“Following the government instruction to stay at home and avoid crowded places, IT manufacturers and retailers are witnessing a sales uplift as homebound workers rush to invest in IT equipment to help them work comfortably from home,” she said.

“IT is not the only area we’re tracking that shows increased sales, though – with sales of freezers, fridges, hair clippers and food deep fryers all showing significant year-on-year growth during that week,” she added.

“Following the government instruction to stay at home and avoid crowded places, IT manufacturers and retailers are witnessing a sales uplift as homebound workers rush to invest in IT equipment to help them work comfortably from home”
Kelly Whitwick, GfK

Figures from NordVPN tracking what has happened since 11 March showed a 48.1% growth in the use of business virtual private networks (VPNs).

The firm also found that working from home had increased the average length of the working day by two hours, from nine to 11 hours, and that more than double the number of people are working on desktops than mobile devices, with 42.66% of users choosing to work on PCs and laptops.

Computacenter CEO Mike Norris revealed in its recent results update that it had seen a surge in demand for laptops as businesses started to enable users to work from home.

Those numbers from NordVPN cover the UK, but globally the firm tracked an even higher surge in VPN demand, coming in at 165% with sales increasing by 600%.

Clearly those working from home are not just using technology to work and collaborate with colleagues, but as a means of entertainment and other means of social interaction.

Mobile commerce player Bango, which has been keeping a close eye on what happens once countries go into lockdown – something the UK government has resisted so far – has seen a rise in social gaming, online shopping and streaming, all up by over 20%. The use of technology to order food deliveries climbed by 40% once people went into lockdown.

“The human cost of Covid-19 is truly tragic, and this is a time for us all – individuals, public service providers and businesses – to pull together,” said Anil Malhotra, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Bango. “The infrastructure of our societies is being heavily tested as we scramble to protect our population’s health and economic well-being.” 

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