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US channel buoyant as UK resellers sink

Channel Tracker

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A snapshot of the IT market from a channel perspective has revealed confidence returning in the US even while the European market remains mired in a sales decline.

In analyst Global Touch's mid-quarter Channel Tracker, which surveys sales for the first six weeks of Q2 2003, 55 per cent of US respondents said overall IT sales were in-line with expectations, with signs that end-users were deferring sales from March to April because of the War in Iraq.

In Europe, over the same period, almost half (47 per cent) of respondents said sales were below expectations. By contrast only, 27 per cent of US resellers displayed similar pessimism.

Gross margins in both regions are stable.

US respondents to the survey clocked up $52.85 billion in sales, whilst European survey participants accounted for $61.89 billion in sales over the period.

The evidence is far from definitive but Global Touch reckons its survey shows that the US IT market is beginning to recover.

"If the US IT market has bottomed, the second half of 2003 could generate better than expected revenues and offset European weakness," it comments.

For the sixth consecutive quarter, European resellers reported customers cancelling or postponing purchase orders and projects. Meanwhile cancelled orders in the US are becoming much less common.

US respondents to the survey said most key hardware categories remain in-line or ahead of expectations with the exception of PC desktop and Unix server sales, which are below expectations. European participants in the survey talked of a more mixed (and subdued) environment.

Sales in key software categories, bot in the US and Europe, were in-line or above expectations. Meanwhile the security market remained stable worldwide.

Looking ahead to Q3 2003, US channel folk predict an upturn of sales in most segments, excluding PC desktops. European respondents expect only flat to moderate growth.

Given the traditional spending slowdown in Europe over the summer months, Global Touch believes its European respondents "may be overly optimistic about growth above low single digits".

The complete report, including charts that reflect the key data, is available online at the Global Touch Web site. ®

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