Coronavirus driving sales of remote working products

Sales of some products have gone through the roof, according to numbers from Context, as countries across Europe adapt to a life of home working

Those resellers handling audiovisual kit and desktop PCs must be feeling like the good old days of the 1990s are back, as high demand keeps stock rushing out of the door.

If there is a silver lining to the current coronavirus pandemic, then it is for those who have kept the light shining for the hardware market.

Firms such as Computacenter have already reported a surge in demand for laptops, and figures from GfK earlier this week revealed that monitors, keyboards and mice were also experiencing storing triple- and double-digit growth.

Adding to those figures are numbers from Context, which gets sales data straight from distributors across Western Europe.

In the eight weeks to 15 March, the impact of the virus on certain product categories stood out clearly, with revenues from audiovisual systems climbing by 57% and desktop computing up by 21%, compared with a year earlier.

Desktops (22%) and desktop workstations (16%) each recorded impressive year-on-year revenue growth across Western Europe. Germany led the way, with desktop growth of 44%, followed by Austria (41%) and Norway (59%).

Customers across Europe are keen to get hold of headsets and headphones to support home working, with those products seeing triple-digit growth and revenues up by 292% in Italy and 252% in Portugal.

“IT channel businesses met a growing demand for products enabling home and remote working as employees were put into lockdown”
Howard Davies, Context

Context found that customers were not simply buying anything and everything, as revenues from computing components were down by 8% and digital media player sales were also down by double digits in most European countries. There was also more demand for smart security rather than just smart speakers.

Yesterday, Barracuda Networks revealed that phishing attempts trying to exploit Covid-19 were on the rise and resellers had a major task in helping customers protect their remote workforces.

The Context numbers also showed an explosion in demand for security, with revenues from sales of security products in Spain increasing in the eight weeks to 15 March – a staggering year-on-year rise of 5,529%. France also saw a rise of 1,396%.

“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.

In response to what is clearly a rapidly evolving situation, the analyst house has launched a weekly Covid-19 index so the channel can chart the demand for products.

“We can see how quickly the situation is changing in each country,” added Davies.

Although some resellers have expressed doubts over the current demand for home working products continuing in the next three months, the experience of the past few weeks has helped many in the channel complete a healthy first quarter

Home working driving demand

Many products connected with home working have seen strong demand and Context has kept an eye on several categories that have done well in the past few weeks, with revenues from sales improving year-on-year:

  • Solid state drives (16%)
  • Telephony and conference systems (17%)
  • VoIP accessories (16%)
  • Uninterruptable power supplies (15%)
  • Smartwatches (21%)


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