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Consumer electronics sales rose 7% during pandemic

Despite the impact of the pandemic on businesses and consumers, overall consumer electronics sales experienced growth in 2020.

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The latest research from Strategy Analytics indicates that strong demand for home computers, tablets and games consoles helped consumer electronics trade revenues reach $358.5-billion in 2020, an increase of 7% over 2019.

According to their report, Global Consumer Electronics Market Forecasts 2014-2024, shipments of home computers and tablets rose 11% to 396-million units in 2020 and revenues increased by 17% to $199-billion. This is due to millions of consumers needing new devices for working and learning from home.

Games console revenues rose 18% to $11.9-billion, driven by the launch of new consoles combined with lockdowns. However, not all categories had the same success — sales of wireless speakers (including smart speakers) fell by 3% to 240-million units, along with TV sales (-2%) but this was an improvement on industry expectations earlier in 2020.


Figure 1. Global Electronics Revenue Trade Value in $Billions (Graphic: Business Wire)

The 2020 outcome represents a substantial improvement overall compared to projections made after the pandemic began. Strategy Analytics’ early 2020 forecasts had suggested a flat market overall. However, vendors were braced for significant sales declines as anti-Covid-19 measures were implemented in Q1 and Q2 of 2020.

There were short-term disruptions in certain categories but, demand recovered in the second half of 2020. Government financial support measures proved to be an important role, with signs towards the end of the year that vendors were unable to meet demand.

“No one needs reminding that 2020 was an unusual year,” says Eric Smith, director, Connected Computing Devices. “Supply chains were initially thrown into disarray, but recovered remarkably well to meet stronger-than-expected demand. Against all expectations the industry still faced some supply constraints as 2020 came to an end, suggesting that WFH and LFH are still providing demand impetus as we enter 2021.”

David Watkins, director at Connected Home Devices, says: “Looking at this data you would be forgiven for thinking 2020 was another normal year. In contrast to doom laden predictions of economic collapse made as the pandemic took hold, consumers continued to find budget for technology which helped them through the crisis. Home entertainment has rarely been as important in people’s lives, and vendors of smart TVs, video streamers and games consoles stepped up to the plate.”

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