Sales through European distributors of printer hardware increased in Q4 2022, with both volumes and revenues exceeding expectations, according to CONTEXT, the global IT market intelligence company.
CONTEXT data revealed a 12.3% year-on-year (YoY) increase in unit sales and a 27.8% increase in revenue during the period.
“This is in part due to the aggressive promotions designed to clear entry-level stock and strong business demand for higher-end devices”, said Antonio Talia, Head of Market & Business Analysis. “These factors helped the market perform significantly better than CONTEXT’s most optimistic scenario for the quarter.”
Revenue on the rise
“Poor market performance in 2021 means the comparatives are favourable, but the product mix has changed over the last year”, Antonio notes. “In Q4 2022 there was more emphasis on high-end consumer printers and mid- and high-end business devices – particularly expensive multi-function laser printers – than in 2021.”
Alongside price increases for mid- and high-end consumer and commercial products, these factors are largely responsible for the growth in revenues, which has been strong since Week 38. There has been something of a slowdown since Week 52, although both markets are still some way above the revenue trend index baseline.
Small and medium resellers had a strong end to 2022, and this continued into the first week of 2023, driven by business sales across public and private sectors as well as the price rises. We have seen a steady growth in the e-tailer channel since Week 40, highlighting the resurgence of consumer spend. Distributors have also worked hard, using promotions to shift entry-level stock.
Consumables in decline
By contrast, the consumables market declined significantly in Q4: down 18.2 YoY % in unit sales and 11.4% in revenues. That is far worse than CONTEXT’s pessimistic outlook of falls of 9.8% and 6.7%, respectively. A decrease in sales of the ink cartridges that make up over 80% of consumable sales in the region was the main reason but toner sales also fell sharply. Refillable ink bottles are gaining market share and interest in these can only increase throughout 2023 and beyond as they are more economical for consumers and will therefore appeal at a time of higher living costs. Subscription models are becoming more prominent, and since their primary route to market is direct, their value is not captured in distribution channel data.
The average number of pages printed also fell sharply in December (by 12% YoY) despite the return to the office. With paperless policies proliferating in the public and private sectors, this fall is likely to continue.