U.S. Commercial Channel Sales Post Gains in 2011 But Fall Short of 2010 Growth, According to The NPD Group

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, JANUARY 25, 2012 –U.S. commercial resellers and distributors ended 2011 with hardware and service sales growing 5.5 percent to almost $50 billion, according to leading market research company The NPD Group’s Reseller Tracking Service and Distributor Track℠ data.  While growth in this economy is a positive sign, the growth in 2011 is less than half of the growth experienced in 2010 (13.5 percent), and sequential quarterly growth has been on the decline since the second quarter of 2010.

“Companies continued to spend on maintaining and enhancing their IT infrastructure in 2011, but sales growth has slowed for the last seven quarters indicating that the momentum for many categories may have hit a wall,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “Clearly there are still some major categories which continue to grow, but the 4 percent growth we saw in the fourth quarter of 2011 has fallen significantly from the nearly 21 percent growth we reached in Q2 2010 and is below 2011’s overall growth rate.”

U.S. Commercial Quarterly Revenue Growth (Reseller and Distributor)


The NPD Group/Reseller Tracking Service and Distributor Track℠

Of the sales generated in 2011, 41 percent were driven by three main categories: client devices, networking, and storage hardware and equipment.  These sales grew at nearly double the rate of the overall commercial marketplace.

Client devices, which include notebooks, desktops, and thin clients, saw unit and dollar sales increase by nearly 20 percent and 14 percent, respectively.  Networking sales increased 8 percent in dollars and storage hardware sales were up almost 7 percent.

Some of the strongest sales among the client device category were:

  • Thin clients – 29 percent unit volume increase
  • Notebooks – 20 percent unit volume increase
  • Desktops – 17 percent unit volume increase

Networking sales got a boost from wireless access points and gateways as well as wired network solutions.

  • Wireless access points and gateways  - 31 percent dollar volume increase
  • Wired network solutions – 6 percent dollar volume increase

Storage hardware sales, despite facing hard drive shortages in the fourth quarter, managed to deliver a positive full year of sales growth led by strong sales of solid state drives and NAS.

  • Solid state drives – 92 percent dollar volume increase
  • Network Attached Storage – 24 percent dollar volume increase

“Sales results in our point-of-sale data very closely mirror the results we have seen in our SMB Technology Monitor survey,” said Baker. “Smaller SMBs (fewer than 50 employees) tell us that the PC is most assuredly not dead, and their actual purchases show that spending on PCs continues to rise.  Spending on other core infrastructure segments, like storage and networking, also marry with the survey results as larger companies, in the 50-999 employee range, showed strong spending intentions during 2011.”

To learn more about the Commercial PC market read Stephen Baker’s view on The NPD Group Blog.

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