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Sales slump ‘does not signal end’ for PCs in UAE

UAE PC sales Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff
Analysts believe that business confidence must rebound before PC buying increases
  • Global shipments of desktop PCs fell more than 16% in Q2
  • Emea region echoed the trend, falling 14.6% in the same period
  • Shoppers replacing devices bought in the pandemic could boost sales

The ongoing decline in PC sales in the UAE reflects a worldwide trend of decreasing shipments of desktop computers, say analysts.

Global shipments of PCs shrunk by 16.6 percent year on year to 59.7 million in the second quarter of this year.

It marked the seventh consecutive global quarterly decline.

Local UAE industry experts say the slump is likely to be a result of a spike in demand during the pandemic, plus stock increases that attempted to fend off recent supply chain challenges.

They say it is too soon to consign the PC to history just yet.

Research firm Gartner said shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea) declined 14.6 percent in the second quarter, marking its sixth consecutive quarterly decline.

It attributed the decline to continued political unrest, inflationary pressures and interest rate increases impacting demand. 

“The disruptive business outlook is limiting business PC spending in Emea, as companies reduce PC budgets as a cost management strategy,” said analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

“Business confidence must increase to influence stronger PC buying patterns.

“Meanwhile, consumer demand remains low, as all income brackets are affected by inflationary pressures.”

Changing customer needs

Rajat Asthana, chief operating officer at electronics retailer Eros Group, said the growing popularity of laptops was behind the decline in desktop PC sales.

“The ability to work remotely has become more important to consumers, driving the preference for laptops over traditional desktop PCs,” he said.

“They require less physical space compared to desktop PCs, making them a practical choice for individuals with limited workspace.”

Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at electronics retail chain Jacky’s in Dubai, said he believed the recent results were down to an initial surge in demand, as supply chain issues in the wake of the Ukraine invasion convinced retailers and companies stock to up on devices.

“There’s a lot of people who were trying to secure as much stock as they could,” he said.

Panjabi believes UAE PC sales will show growth once stock levels realigned. The buying spree seen during the pandemic, as workers were forced to set up offices at home, means a lot of devices would soon need to be replaced or upgraded, he added.

“Every laptop or PC has got a lifetime, and that lifetime can be between two to four years,” he explained.

“We’re coming to a stage where the replacement cycles are starting to happen again after Covid-19.

“We are starting to see a lot of those devices start to get changed at this stage.”

Panjabi predicted that the second half of the year would see a resurgence due to these factors and that it was too soon to write off the PC.

He pointed to the popularity of ranges such as the Microsoft Surface, which comes in different formats and sizes.

“I think we’re going to start to see a change, hopefully, and a better set of quarters ahead,” he said.

“But I think as far as the UAE goes, we’re optimistic that it should do well within the key categories.”

While consumers and workers debate the merits of PCs versus laptops, IT spending across the Middle East and North Africa is forecast to drop below the global average this year as rising inflation dents consumer spending.

Worldwide growth in IT spending is expected to hit 5.5 percent by the end of this year, but predictions for the Mena region show only a 2 percent increase, according to a report by Gartner in April.