Why is there a laptop shortage?

Bradley Flood

Bradley Flood

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a mass shortage in some consumer products such as toilet roll and hand sanitiser. People flew to the shops, buying large up quantities of certain essential items – resulting in many empty shop shelves. Whilst this was widely covered in the mainstream news, what many didn’t realise at the time is that this ‘panic buying’ also heavily impacted tech supply to schools and businesses.

During the first and subsequent lockdowns, the knee-jerk reaction of many was to get online and grab new tech for themselves and their children. Schools found themselves required to provide home laptops for groups of learners and families invested in devices to enable enhanced long-distance communication with shielding relatives. Lots of stories started to circulate, but for retailers it was easy to predict that shortages would happen with huge numbers of sales made across the UK.  

But is there more to this shortage than mass sales? Manufacturers have endeavoured to prepare for the demand in 2021 by increasing their stock levels, but this hasn’t been an easy road as companies have suffered heavily with staff shortages, making it more difficult to get the parts required. Components, such as display panels and circuits for LCD screens, are just a few items that are proving difficult to source, slowing the speed at which manufacturers can produce laptops/computers. 

A global computer chip shortage is having a huge effect, with car manufacturers requiring huge numbers of these for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Parking Sensors. Even the world’s biggest tech companies like Apple need these silicon components to power their high-tech gadgets which require a lot more power and rely on these chips more than ever before. Reports say that Intel struggled to keep up with demand even prior to the pandemic and then Lockdowns forced the makers of these chips to close factories. Chip manufacturers are hard at work to recover from the impact of the pandemic, but it doesn’t look as though the recovery will be rapid. 

As we head further into 2021, it should become easier to obtain a laptop or computer but don’t always bet on getting your first choice; prepare yourself to do a bit of shopping around. Availability of the latest models will probably be inconsistent, cheap deals even more so, as some mainstream retailers take every opportunity to cash in on demand. 

COVID-19 has had such a massive effect on the world as we know it and it’s difficult to imagine how anyone would have managed without the technology available to us. I hope you are coping with the struggles that the pandemic continues to present. As always, if you have any telecoms, IT or CCTV queries for your business, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. And, if you’re looking for a new business laptop, let us do the heavy lifting – we’ll find something that is both perfect for the job and actually in stock!