The volume of notebook sales in the education sector across Europe has declined sharply in the first 11 weeks of the year, although it remains higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to Context.

The latest four-week rolling average figures for unit sales versus a year ago saw the performance dip to nearly -50% in some weeks of 2022 to date.

However, that can be explained by strong growth a year ago: a number of weeks in Q1 2021 saw a year-on-year rise of +450% or more. The UK, Italy and Spain – which drove the segment in the first two years of the pandemic – continue largely to do so in 2022.

“Although we are seeing a number of local education projects and deals continue in markets such as the UK and Spain, gone are the large government frameworks that characterised the segment in the first two years of the pandemic,” says Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context. “In some countries, this has even led to an excess of notebook stock in the channel, particularly Chromebooks, as expectations of demand did not meet reality.”

For the rest of the year, Context expects smaller projects will continue to roll out across the region. However, demand is less urgent, so 2022 performance overall in distribution will depend on whether we see any of those large government initiatives return.

“With students back in classrooms and the pandemic easing, we can expect performance lower than the first two years of the crisis, but still in excess of pre-pandemic figures,” Pygott adds.

Across all verticals, the notebook category saw a slight uptick in revenue at the end of Q1, which is typical for a quarter end. However, the quarter has been a mixed one overall, with fluctuations in weekly performance driven by supply issues and slowing consumer demand.

Context notes stock levels rising and supply issues are improving. But often stock is spending a long time in transit, so when it does arrive it is old. Component shortages also remain.