U.S. Mobile Carrier Telesales Share Doubled in Q2 2020 Driven By COVID Restrictions

Online smartphone sales also grew in Q2, but Q3 saw a return to in-store purchasing as COVID restrictions eased

Port Washington, NY, November 11, 2020 – Since COVID restrictions and lockdowns began in March of this year, shifts in how consumers make purchases have been evident across the retail landscape. When looking at U.S. smartphone sales specifically, online sales during Q2 2020 grew 13 percentage points from Q1. Carrier telesales also saw a notable increase over this time period doubling to represent 12% of handset sales.

Based on NPD’s Mobile Consumer Tracking data, retail handset sales saw a double digit percentage point decline during Q2 2020 compared to Q1, as consumers looked for alternatives to in-store purchasing driven by pandemic concerns and restrictions that resulted in retail store closures. According to NPD Checkout data, in Q2 e-commerce represented 69% of total consumer technology sales, up from 48% during the same time last year, and that number is expected to remain above 60% moving forward. But, as restrictions were lifted smartphone shoppers slowly returned to stores for their purchases. In fact, while retail has not returned to its typical share of the market, it gained back 11 market share percentage points from Q2 to Q3 2020.

“In Q2, the pandemic drove consumers away from retail, but the increase we saw in telesales and curbside pickup of online orders indicated that consumers were still looking for assistance when purchasing mobile devices,” said Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “With restrictions expected to return in some areas, we may continue to see fluctuation in purchase channels, but believe in-store smartphone purchases will get close to the pre-pandemic levels in the future.”


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