Sales in laptops, stationery and toasters boom

Source: Business Insider SA

Between January and August 2020, South Africans newly working from home showed a serious appetite for office equipment and stationery, with year-on-year growth of 83% recorded.

Of South Africans who buy online, 52% now own laptops, compared to 40% last year.

But broadly speaking, technology sales weren’t great during lockdown, the latest market insight from consumer experts GfK South Africa shows – despite the work-from-home boom. In the first quarter of 2020, technical goods showed a 1% year-on year increase in sales, then revenues plummeted by 25% during hard lockdown (April to July), when the sale of non-essential goods were banned.

South Africans, it appears, had to improvise, or do without.

The move to Alert Level 4 in May saw a sudden surge in demand for smartphones, tablets and small domestic appliances.

“Consumers snapped up appliances for making quick meals and drinks, including toasters, sandwich makers, coffee machines and microwaves,” says Nicolet Pienaar, head of market insights at GfK South Africa. “Performance for content creation devices such as laptops and tablets was strong, since sharing a device between people in the household was not an option in a time of remote working and home schooling.”

These isolated gains in the technical consumer goods market coincided with 10% revenue growth associated with small domestic appliances and 8% in mid-level information technology systems. But those were offset by steep declines in the supply of multifunctional technical goods, photographic equipment, and telecommunications.

Retailers were quick to capitalise on the announcement of Level 2 lockdown in August, redoubling promotional activity and running tailored marketing campaigns.

That seems to bode well for the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotional period.

“After a gruelling year that has hit many South Africans in the pocket, we’re expecting to see demand from two types of consumer over Black Friday: the reset spender, looking for genuine bargains after months of holding back and the revenue spender, looking for deals that let them trade up to premium products,” says Pienaar.

Comparative growth in the second quarter of 2020 is expected to boom, with 69% of brick and mortar retailers anticipating Black Friday sales to be at least as good as they were last year. Additionally, 36% of online retailers anticipate that Cyber Monday will be at least as good as last year, and 36% expect it to be better.

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