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Low-end devices were the winners in the lockdown quarter

August 10, 2020

According to research by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European printer and multifunction (MFP) market declined by 10.4% in unit terms in 1Q20 compared with the same period a year ago to give a market size of 3.70 million units, but market values contracted by 33.3%.

IDC said that the disparity exists as demand for low-end inkjet and laser devices remained strong as workers and students continued to switch from the office and educational institutions to the home, and as many places of work and schooling closed down, the installation of many new devices was postponed or cancelled. As a result, channel partners ordered fewer devices, and in many cases simply extended the contracts for existing customers, meaning fewer new shipments were made — especially for the higher value units.

Towards the end of the quarter, some countries lifted lockdowns in many workplaces but shipments of certain devices such as A3 MFPs remained weak as budgets were cut or switched to other technology services and a lack of resources meant that many installations were still on hold.

Most countries saw declines, and these ranged from minimal single-digit declines to declines of over a quarter as lockdown conditions were much more severe in some countries than others and stock issues in some countries also prevailed. There were, however, some exceptions and some countries recorded growth, mainly due to increased inkjet shipments.

“Overall device shipments performed better than expected in 2Q20 as demand for low-end inkjet and laser devices outstripped supply in some cases,” said Phil Sargeant, Programme Director in IDC’s Western European Imaging, Hardware Devices, and Document Solutions Group. “However, demand for higher specification A3 and A4 devices remained weaker as many establishments were closed for the quarter, meaning many installations were postponed or cancelled.”

IDC’s latest research shows that the overall Western European hardcopy market contracted by 10.4% year on year in 2Q20, recording a shipment figure of 3.70 million units. The value for the 1Q20 market in Europe declined by 33.3% to just over €1.70 billion ($1.99 billion).

Inkjet shipments declined by 3.9% in 1Q20 with consumer devices declining by just 2.0%.

Laser shipments for the quarter were down by 22.7% with A3 shipments declining by 41.3% and A4 devices by 19.7%.

Countries had mixed results, and although most did record a decline there were some surprises as some showed a solid performance and actually recorded increased shipments.

Germany
The German market declined by 16.71% in 2Q20. Laser shipments declined by 29.4.7% while inkjet shipments also declined by a lower rate of 7.4%. All categories of colour and mono laser devices decreased year on year, but A3 MFP declines were not as weak as other countries and the main declines were from single-function printers. One bright spot was the small increase in A4 inkjet MFP devices.

France
France shipments declined 15.5% with laser shipments contracting by over a quarter, and although inkjet shipments also declined, inkjet shipments in France were the largest in Western Europe. Mono inkjet shipments increased, and the best performing laser segment was the A4 mono MFP market, although it too declined. A3 MFP shipments were in line with Western Europe declines.

The UK
The UK decline of 4.6% was better than originally forecast as there was a slight increase in inkjet shipments, although laser continued to decline. A3 MFP devices declined by three-quarters but there was growth from A4 mono MFP devices, and A4 colour MFP devices only declined by single figures. Shipments of high-speed inkjet devices remained flat.

Italy
Italian markets declined by 12.6% with both inkjets and lasers showing contraction. Inkjet markets declined by 4.6% while laser markets declined by almost a quarter. Mono inkjets registered an increase while A3 inkjets declined by double-digits. A3 laser MFP shipments declined by almost half, while there was actual growth in the A4 colour MFP market.

Spain
Spain bucked the trend and saw overall shipments increase by 8.7%. Inkjet shipments increased by 22.3% due to increases in A4 and A3 consumer inkjets, while laser still suffered in a similar fashion to other countries. A3 laser shipments declined by two-thirds, but mono and colour A4 MFP shipments increased, as did A4 single-function colour printers.

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