U.S. B2B Technology Sales Finished 2020 Strong with Four Consecutive Months of Growth

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Channel Sales Ended 2020 Down 2%, Reports NPD

“We expect mobility and security will continue to be strong performers in the new year, but also see opportunity for data center infrastructure to see renewed growth and expansion in 2021.”

The U.S. B2B technology channel generated $93.9 billion in 2020, a 2% sales decline compared to the year prior, according to The NPD Group’s B2B Distributor Track and Reseller Tracking services. Following double digit declines in May, the channel rebounded and saw four consecutive months of growth from September through December 2020. For the year, software sales were up 2% and hardware sales declined 3%.

Across both hardware and software, products that increase productivity or security were instrumental in a year that saw a sudden and, in many cases, long-lasting shifts to remote working and learning due to the COVID pandemic. In 2020, sales of security software (+9%) and business applications (+5%) drove sales in the software segment as companies large and small worked to support business continuity through maintaining effective levels of data and access security. On the hardware side, notebooks and tablets continued to see growth, which will likely continue through 2021. These two categories grew 26% combined year over year in 2020 despite product constraints during peak education and holiday periods. Products such as USB Cameras (+427%) and PC Headsets (+60%) saw notable revenue growth as well.

In some cases, the pandemic accelerated trends that were already occurring within the channel, which may in turn result in opportunities for related categories. For one, digital transformation is estimated to have been pushed in some cases three to five years into the future, which primes the storage and data protection category, as well as the database and application development category for improved growth in the short-term.

“While 2020 got off to a steady start, the pandemic quickly impacted channel spending as we saw the focus shift even more to categories that supported mobile productivity and security,” said Mike Crosby, Director and B2B Technology Industry Analyst, The NPD Group. “With 2021 underway, there is a sense of optimism accompanying vaccine distribution ramp-up and incremental federal stimulus funds. We expect mobility and security will continue to be strong performers in the new year, but also see opportunity for data center infrastructure to see renewed growth and expansion in 2021.”

Source: The NPD Group, Inc., U.S. B2B Distributor Track® and Reseller Tracking service, Jan.-Dec. 2020 vs. Jan.-Dec. 2019.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help our clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2,000 companies worldwide rely on us to help them measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, and B2B. We have services in 19 countries worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, home improvement, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys, and video games. For more information, visit npd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

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