With many people stuck at home, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have spurred an uptick in people building their own PCs.
Market research firm NPD Group has been tracking retail sales in the US, and noticed a recent spike in purchases for desktop components. “DIY hardware sales are up 89 percent over the last four weeks, led by motherboards (+147 percent), graphics (+152 percent), and aftermarket CPU (+137 percent),” according to NPD Group VP Stephen Baker.
The sales boost occurs as many people in the US have been forced to work and study at home during the pandemic. In addition to PC components, consumers have also been buying laptops. “In the last three weeks, since the beginning of the stimulus check distributions, (notebook) sales have been up 59 percent, 70 percent, and 43 percent, respectively,” Baker told PCMag.
According to Baker, US consumers are favoring lower-priced notebooks. “Part of this is attributable to the large growth results from Chromebooks (sales increases versus last year have been over 100 percent per week for the last seven consecutive weeks),” he said.
“The growth in education-at-home has certainly had an impact as consumers buy lower-priced notebooks for younger children than they would typically buy for a high school or university student,” he added.
On the other hand, sales for premium notebooks costing over $1,000 and fully assembled desktop PCs have largely remained flat over the last few weeks. But purchases for gaming laptops have been up double-digits, Baker said.
Other research firms, including Canalys and IDC, have also reported rising demand for PCs during the pandemic. But for this year’s first quarter, PC shipments saw a year-over-year decline due to COVID-19 disrupting factory production in China.
Demand for PCs may not last, given the pandemic’s growing toll on the economy and people’s bank accounts. But Baker points out technology products as a whole are satisfying consumer needs for productivity, learning, employment, and entertainment. In addition to PC demand, sales for soundbars, TV mounts, and streaming hardware was also up 54 percent or more.
“No longer is tech a luxury good; technology is clearly now considered by consumers to be a necessity,” Baker added.