Several distributors have rewritten the record books with higher than expected sales in the first month of the year.
January is traditionally considered the quietest month as corporate customers make their way back into the office. However, many suppliers say hardware orders were piling up the moment staff returned to their desks.
Dicker Data sales manager, Chris Price, said it had experienced 70 per cent growth compared with the same month last year. About half of the distributor's business is in the corporate sector.
"A lot of vendors have been aggressive in terms of pricing and deals," he said. "They're trying to get their numbers up. Vista has also had an impact. There are lots of XP Pro systems being sold cheaply as vendors try to clear models in preparation for desktops with Vista as standard. "We've seen very strong desktop and notebook sales because of this aggressiveness." Another factor improving Dicker's figures was the launch of several new reseller services. One of these was its enhanced configuration centre, which came online in early December. While about 5 per cent of desktops had been shipped with configuration previously, Price said it was now closer to 30 per cent. To meet demand, Dicker has hired additional configuration staff. Price said the education sector was also on a spending spree. Products from HP made up the lion's share. While the January spike was unusual, Price said Dicker's December sales had also been up.
"We have had a steady ramp up in business over the past six months. We forecast downwards for December, but I think we had the right inventory at the right time," he said.
Express Data also experienced a significantly stronger January compared to last year. Managing director, Ross Cochrane, said the growth was a sign of an optimistic market.
"There have been a lot of positive reseller results on the stock market. In the business world, people are recognising that to continue growth they have to remain competitive and drive better services to their customers while getting more from staff," he said. "This is seeing them invest heavily in IT."
Like Price, Cochrane said the widely anticipated launch of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system and Office 2007 software was fuelling excitement around its new technologies.
"This is encouraging people to look at their infrastructure and consider taking the next step," he said. "Enterprise doesn't leap straight away - there's a lot of testing applications for compatibility. But the commercial and mid-tier moves quicker. All it takes is a few machines for people to see the benefits. The next thing you know, it will be the norm."
Strong technology growth areas for ED include security, availability and IP telephony. Cochrane used Cisco's 27 per cent year-on-year growth in Q2 as a reflection of the strong IT climate.