Weak demand, excess inventory and a worsening macroeconomic climate contributed to a significant drop in shipments of traditional PCs during the first quarter of 2023.

Global shipments were 56.9 million in the quarter, marking a contraction of 29% compared to the same quarter in 2022, preliminary results released by International Data Corporation (IDC) has shown.

The preliminary results reflect a return to pre-Covid spending patterns in 1Q23 with shipment volume, noticeably lower than the 59.2 million units shipped in 1Q19 and 60.6 million in 1Q18.

Though channel inventory has depleted in the last few months, it’s still well above the healthy four-to-six-week range, according to IDC research manager, Jitesh Ubrani.

“Even with heavy discounting, channels and PC makers can expect elevated inventory to persist into the middle of the year and potentially into the third quarter,” he said.

“The pause in growth and demand is also giving the supply chain some room to make changes as many factories begin to explore production options outside China. Meanwhile, PC makers are also rejigging their plans for the remainder of the year and have begun to pull in orders for Chromebooks due to an expected increase in licensing costs later this year.

“That said, PC shipments will likely suffer in the near term with a return to growth towards the end of the year with an expected improvement in the global economy and as the installed base begins to think about upgrading to Windows 11.”