Faltering consumer sales sent European shipments of PCs down 4 percent in the second quarter of 2001 compared to the same period last year, according to a new study by market researcher Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc.
Manufacturers sold 6.02 million of the devices in the quarter, marking the first recorded decline for the continent. In the wider Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, PC sales totaled 8.38 million, comprising a 5.7 percent increase in the business segment and a 15.4 percent drop in the home market.
The severity of the decline surprised researchers, said Dataquest analyst Thomas Reuner.
"Definitely it's still better off than the U.S. market, but we would have expected that the majority of Europe wouldn't be influenced so much by the U.S. economy," he said. He cited curtailed spending by U.S. companies with operations in Europe, and continued bad news in the telecommunication sector, as additional factors in the slump.
Sales dropped in Europe's two largest country markets, Germany and the U.K., by 11.9 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. France posted an increase of 7.8 percent, but that was accounted for partly by special employee purchase plans promoted by large corporations such as Vivendi Universal SA. In relatively underdeveloped Russia, sales growth was the strongest in the region, at 38.3 percent.
"In the whole Eastern European economy, the political and economic situation is a lot more stable," said Reuner. "A lot of companies are investing in IT now; they're still coming from a fairly low base. With the more stable conditions, obviously people are trying to catch up." He added that the prospect of Eastern European candidates joining the European Union has also sparked investment in the region.
In a similar report, International Data Corp. (IDC) said in July that PC sales for Western Europe grew 1 percent in the second quarter over the same period in 2000. The researchers cited weak consumer desktop sales, and added that although many businesses were postponing hardware purchases, "essential renewals" were continuing among corporate buyers.