Demand for personal computers is sliding at the fastest pace in decades after elevated pandemic-related sales were followed by a slowdown in consumer spending on electronics.
Worldwide shipments in the third quarter dropped 19.5% from a year ago, marking the steepest decline in more than two decades, according to data from research firm
Computer makers shipped 68 million PCs in the recent quarter, down from 84.5 million units the year prior.
“This quarter’s results could mark a historic slowdown for the PC market,” said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner. “While supply chain disruptions have finally eased, high inventory has now become a major issue given weak PC demand in both the consumer and business markets.”
Back-to-school sales were weaker than expected despite promotions and price drops aimed at driving purchases, Ms. Kitagawa said. A slowing global economy is also making businesses more cautious in their spending decisions.
The U.S. market for PCs declined by 17.3% in the third quarter, driven by a slump in laptop sales, according to Gartner.
International Data Corp., another data provider, said global shipments declined 15% in the third quarter with a total of 74.3 million units dispatched, though shipment volumes remain above prepandemic levels. The two research firms count the data slightly differently.
The sector benefited during the pandemic from a boom in electronic sales as households and businesses bought PCs to adjust to working from home and remote schooling. But those big purchases are hard for consumers to replicate so soon, especially as inflation curbs spending amid other macroeconomic conditions.
PC makers such as
Dell Technologies Inc.
have been warning of tapering consumer demand in recent months, and the shift is hitting supply chains.
On Thursday, chip maker
cut its revenue forecast for the most recent quarter, citing weaker-than-expected demand for the personal computers that use its chips. The company said it expects $5.6 billion in sales for the just-ended quarter, about $1.1 billion less than it previously expected when it issued a subdued outlook in August.
Write to Kathryn Hardison at [email protected]
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8