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Research: Indirect sales of IT products flat in 2012

NPD Group data shows indirect sales of IT products through distributors grew less than 1% in 2012 and reseller sales dropped by about the same amount.

For the third consecutive year, IT technology sales through U.S. distributors and commercial resellers have remained flat, at approximately $58.5 billion, according to research by The NPD Group Inc.

According to the report, which was conducted by The NPD Group's Distributor Track and Reseller Tracking Services unit, distribution sales accounted for 62% of IT sales and grew less than 1% in 2012 compared with a drop of 1% in 2011. Reseller sales accounted for 38% of IT sales, a decline of slightly more than 1% compared to an increase of 4% in 2011.

The top five revenue categories for indirect sales in 2010, 2011 and 2012 -- computers and servers, consumables, network equipment, software, and storage hardware -- continue to drive the lion's share, or 72.5%, of commercial sales revenue. That figure has been relatively unchanged for the past four years, according to NPD analysts.

The demand for storage products had the strongest increase, with a 10.4% revenue uptick in 2012. The growth was attributed to a healthy 50% uptick in solid-state drive sales and to strong growth in storage systems, with a reported increase of 13.5%. Both storage and networking products are expected to continue driving overall growth in 2013.

Numbers were more mixed for PCs and notebook sales. Total PC sales fell 7% in 2012. Desktop unit sales increased 4% from 2011, with sales of Windows-based PCs up by 5.2%. The indirect sales market for notebook sales was especially sluggish, decreasing 13%, overall. However, the poor performance was one-sided, with Windows notebook sales dropping 16% while Mac sales grew by 15%.

Windows 8-based computers accounted for 18% of notebook sales and 5% of desktop sales through commercial channels in Q4.

The NPD Group's Distributor Track and Reseller Tracking Services unit reports that companies, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, continue to spend on technology that's necessary for day-to-day business, but are less invested in long-term projects that target overall technology improvements.

According to the report, NPD Group analysts expect 2013 trends to follow a path similar to these 2012 trends.

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