BOSTON and TORONTO and LONDON and NEW DELHI and BEIJING and TAIPEI and SEOUL – Q1 2020 saw a 21% year-over-year (YoY) decline in smartphone sales driven by store closures and stay-at-home orders in the latter part of the quarter, according to Counterpoint Research's latest US Channel Share Tracker.
Speaking about Q1 market dynamics, Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said, "In Q1 we began seeing impacts on smartphone supply in February and early March due to Chinese factory closures due to COVID-19. Manufacturers with factories located in Wuhan were affected the most. A late tax season bump saw a sales increase for prepaid devices in late February, but supply shortages limited this growth. In mid-March, demand plummeted due to COVID-19. States began to issue stay-at-home orders and both carriers and national retailers closed stores, restricted foot traffic and offered curb-side pick-up in only a few cases. Around 70% of postpaid stores closed in March leading to a steep decline in smartphone sales for the last month of the quarter."
Commenting on manufacturer trends for the quarter, Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne noted, "Apple's physical stores also closed in March and demand shifted to online channels. Apple only declined 13% YoY; much less than almost all other manufacturers. Samsung on the other hand declined 23% YoY. The Galaxy A-series continued to be a sales driver for Samsung as the Galaxy S20 series had a weak start due to COVID-19 shutdowns taking effect right as the new models hit the stores. Samsung offered a $200 online promotion to drive sales in March and even initially launched the devices through its online channel, similar to how Apple uses the Apple Stores during launch months. Samsung is offering both the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra with both sub-6 and mmWave 5G, while the S20 only has sub-6 5G. This means that the lowest cost Galaxy S20 model is currently not being offered at Verizon, although Verizon says it soon will be. Other manufacturers saw steeper declines as they were hit more strongly by early supply shortages or had weaker sales due to store closures. OnePlus did see growth in the quarter, thanks to its small year ago base. OnePlus continues to make inroads into US carrier markets, especially through competitively-priced 5G smartphone offerings."