European Channel growth falters

Revenue growth among European IT channel players has faltered for the first time since the start of coronavirus-related government lockdowns, with supply shortages and public holidays partially to blame, and tough comparatives with a strong quarter end in 2019, according to the latest analysis from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Enforced home working and schooling across the region had driven up revenue growth in specific categories, leading to improved performance overall across much of Q1 and Q2 to reach a peak of 10% growth in week 12 (beginning March 16).

However, according to the four-week rolling average calculated by CONTEXT, that growth began to decline the following week (to 9.2%) and then fell even further in the succeeding two weeks, first to 0.5% and then -7.4%. By comparison, growth was 8.1% in week 15 (beginning April 6) the same time last year. This trend has been driven by Western Europe, which posted a fall of 8.9% in week 15, versus +9.4% growth in the same period in 2019. Eastern Europe, by contrast, saw positive growth of 2.2% that week, up from 1.4% in week 14 and double the growth it saw in 2019.

In week 15, the UK took its first plunge this year. However, this can partly be explained by the fact that the period encompassed Easter 2020, so it effectively lost a day’s revenue (Good Friday), as did Germany. Spain lost two days as it also posted a decline. Week 15 was also the first week after a quarter end, which further goes to explain the fall, as do reports of shipping delays and product shortages in some sectors such as mobile computing.

However, despite the overall decline, the same home working categories that have performed well since the lockdown continued to exhibit strong growth. These include web cameras (102%) virtualisation software (48%), notebooks (29%), headsets and microphones (27%), workstations (27%), ink cartridges (19%) and all-in-one inkjets (18%).

The big engines of the distribution channel, small and medium-sized (-9%) and corporate resellers (-10%), have both felt the pain of declines in week 15, while consumer e-tailers (14%) saw strong growth, albeit with a smaller slice of the market.

“Supply shortages in certain popular consumer products combined with a slowdown in enterprise activity meant week 14 did not display a quarterly peak in Europe. In fact, growth fell from 9.2% the previous week to just 0.5%. In the US, by contrast, growth held up pretty well, rising from 8% to 9% over the period,” explained CONTEXT Global Managing Director, Adam Simon.

“However, there’s still high demand in Europe across many home working categories. So channel resellers can hope to expect better growth now the Easter break is behind them, especially if supply shortages ease as they move through the second quarter.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine