Latest News

Gadget sales set to fall 13.6% in 2020 due to coronavirus impact

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on sales of smartphones and other gadgets, according to new figures from Gartner.

Lockdown measures combined with economic uncertainty led to demand for smartphones collapsing in the first quarter of this year, with sales down 20%, as consumers stopped spending on non-essential products.

“The coronavirus pandemic caused the global smartphone market to experience its worst decline ever,” commented Anshul Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Most of the leading Chinese manufacturers and Apple were severely impacted by the temporary closures of their factories in China and reduced consumer spending due to the global shelter-in-place.”

Smartphone shipments for the whole of 2020 are forecast to decline by 13.7% from 2019, with many people holding on to their old phones for longer.

“While users have increased the use of their mobile phones to communicate with colleagues, work partners, friends and families during lockdowns, reduced disposable income will result in fewer consumers upgrading their phones,” explained Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner. “As a result, phone lifetimes will extend from 2.5 years in 2018 to 2.7 years in 2020.”

Spending on PCs, laptops and tablets will show a smaller decline, after benefiting from sales to support working and learning from home.

Gartner expects shipments of desk-based PCs and laptops to fall by 10.5% and tablets and Chromebooks by 7.4% compared with last year.

“The forecasted decline in the PC market in particular could have been much worse,” Atwal said. “However, government lockdowns due to Covid-19 forced businesses and schools to enable millions of people to work from home and increase spending on new notebooks, Chromebooks and tablets for those workers. Education and government establishments also increased spending on those devices to facilitate e-learning.”

Almost half (48%) of employees are anticipated to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic, compared with 30% before the crisis. As a result, IT departments will shift their spending towards more notebooks, tablets and Chrome devices for work.

“This trend combined with businesses required to create flexible business continuity plans will make business notebooks displace desk-based PCs through 2021 and 2022,” Atwal said.

Overall, global shipments of devices (including PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones) are predicted to decline by 13.6% in 2020.

Protect your tech against accidental damage, breakdown, theft and unauthorised usage — as well as loss for an additional fee — with specialist insurance for mobile phones, gadget insurance and laptop insurance from Gadget Cover.

Share this story, choose your platform