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One of the strongest customers for laptops has been the education sector, and those able to get hardware into the hands of customers over the course of the pandemic have seen triple-digit growth in recent quarters.
That rate of shipment growth is slowing down in the UK, with the latest market analysis from Context indicating that sales grew by 3% during the second quarter.
Across Western Europe as a whole, sales of educational laptops being sold through distribution increased year-on-year by 38%, indicating that demand from educational buyers has remained high.
“The rise in sales of notebooks targeted at education was lower than in previous quarters, during which a number of significant institutional deals were completed,” said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context. “Despite this slower growth, the volume sold to commercial channels was still up by 53% and that to retailers and consumer etailers by 20%.”
Traditionally, in a non-pandemic environment, the summer is the time of year when educational specialists in the channel are installing equipment and helping schools and colleges upgrade hardware for the start of a fresh term.
The government has made commitments as part of its Get Help with Technology programme to get laptops into the hands of children over the course of the pandemic that have totalled in excess of 1.3m devices being ordered and deployed.
The coronavirus experience shone a light on the importance of laptops and the digital divide that sparked government commitments to get the hardware into the hands of more children.
The expectations are that although that initial wave of accelerated spending might be slowing, the move towards more mobile use in classrooms was already a feature of the market in 2019 and will continue into the near future.
“The sector will continue to provide significant sales opportunities for OEMs and the channel for the remainder of the year, although growth is likely to be slower than at the height of the pandemic,” said Pygott.
The PC generally, but laptops in particular, have seen stellar growth over the course of the past 18 months. Recent figures from Canalys measuring the state of play across Western Europe in Q2 found that the market had grown by 3%, even compared with a period last year when lockdowns were driving spending.
Many have commented on the likelihood that sales would have been even stronger if the component shortage, which has been plaguing the industry for 18 months at least, was not still causing problems.
“Western Europe has emerged into a post-Covid ‘new normal’, a rapidly digitising world, as shown by the robust shipment numbers,” said Trang Pham, research analyst at Canalys. “Had supply issues been resolved, we could have seen even higher growth in the PC market.”