Inflation fears hit Western European PC market

Second-quarter analysis from Canalys shows inflation and supply chain issues took a toll in shipments

It is hard to ignore inflation, particularly with some predictions that it will hit 18% early next year, and it is already having an impact on those in the PC hardware world.

An analysis of PC shipments across Western Europe in the second quarter showed the consequences of both inflationary pressures and the ongoing Chinese shipment issues.

This is now a second quarter of decline in Western Europe, with an 18% year-on-year drop in shipments in Q2 with notebooks particularly hit, with a 26% year-on-year decrease.

Key areas in China that support the development and movement of PC components were in lockdown in the quarter, and although things were improving from May onwards, the bounce back was not strong enough to offset the damage earlier in the quarter. But it should mean these issues will not be as much of a problem in the second half of the year.

At the same time, inflation across the region has continued to rise and is giving customers a reason to pause as they react to the prospect of a shrinking wage packet.

“On top of unprecedented supply issues, the second quarter of 2022 highlighted the impact of rising inflation on consumer demand for PCs across Western Europe,” said Canalys research analyst Kieren Jessop.

Unlike the Chinese supply issues, the prospects for inflation are set to worsen as the market moves deeper into Q3 and Q4. Earlier today, forecasts from Citi Group hit the headlines by indicating that as a result of rising energy prices, inflation in the UK could peak at 18% in Q1 next year, before falling back into single digits.

“In this inflationary environment, the consumer/commercial mix is undergoing a significant shift,” said Jessop. “Consumer-bound shipments of desktops and notebooks fell by 34% in Q2 as many people were forced to delay buying new devices due to pressure on household budgets.

“Conversely, as countries in the region continued their post-Covid recoveries, business demand for high-quality devices to support returns to work and hybrid workstyles remained relatively robust, with non-education commercial PC shipments falling only 3%.”

He added: “Larger organisations that have the capital are still willing and able to refresh their employees’ devices and upgrade their office IT infrastructure. PC vendors with strong channel relationships and commercial-oriented offerings of products and associated services will see healthier overall performance in the region, even as economic conditions worsen.”

The top PC vendors continued to hold their market share, with Lenovo leading the pack, followed by HP and Dell. Outside the top three, the hardest hit was Apple, which sells at higher price points and might be slightly more vulnerable to consumer jitters around inflation.

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