The pandemic has made it harder to buy a new laptop (2023)

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro hit shelves on May 4th. Kate Kozuch, a journalist, ordered one to replace her old, broken 2015 model. She was confused by the different add-ons and configuration options — “The numbers hurt my brain,” she told The Verge. But after much research, she finally settled on one.

When it came time to check out, however, Kozuch realized she might have to wait much longer than she’d hoped. Apple estimated that her unit would arrive between May 26th and June 2nd. It didn’t take quite that long, but it still took longer than anticipated. Kozuch got her MacBook on May 18th — two weeks after placing the order.

Robin Gloss, a college student, also ordered the new MacBook on May 26th. She hasn’t received it yet, but it’s supposed to come on June 10th. Gloss isn’t thrilled about having to wait that long; she’s worried that her 2015 MacBook Air will crash before it arrives. “It works, but barely,” she said. “It doesn’t have enough processing power to run the WordPress plugin I need.”

“It works, but barely”

BJ Adams ordered a 15-inch HP Spectre x360 on May 3rd as a desktop replacement. HP said it would ship on May 29th, and arrive on June 4th. On June 1st, Adams asked for an update; the arrival date is now June 23rd.

Adams was so irritated that he considered canceling the order and going to Best Buy. “HP is doing bad,” he complained. “They need to get out of the laptop business.”

If you, like Gloss, Adams, and Kozuch, have shopped for a new laptop in the past few months and been met with multiweek shipping estimates and out-of-stock signs, you are not alone. Retail analytics firm Stackline found that in recent weeks, traffic to laptop product pages has grown 100 to 130 percent (year over year). Conversion rates (that is, the proportion of visitors to laptop product pages who actually purchase), conversely, have plummeted; they’re normally around 3 percent, but in mid-May they hit an all-time low of 1.5 percent. In other words: people are looking for laptops more, but they’re having trouble finding products in stock to actually purchase.

That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has put two unique pressures on laptop manufacturers: higher demand and lower supply.

Sayon Deb, senior analyst at the Consumer Technology Association, says that outbreaks hit laptop manufacturers the hardest in the first few months of 2020, when cities across China were in lockdown. “Somewhere around the end of February was the last batch of shipments,” Deb said, referring to units coming to the US from Asia. “Around mid-February was when production was spinning down. It ground to a halt.”

It’s hard to say when supply chains will be back at full capacity

China’s lockdowns and quarantines have eased over the past few months — around 75 percent of the country was back at work by the end of March, according to McKinsey. But shortages continued, and even as supply chains ramp up again, it’s hard to say when they’ll be back at full capacity.

That’s partially due to the time it takes to transport laptop parts to manufacturing facilities. OEMs ship some components from outside of China, and those (due to their size) commonly travel by air. Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa estimates that around half of that cargo usually comes on commercial flights. The pandemic hasn’t been kind to those modes of transportation; countries around the world have restricted air travel, and airline capacity has crunched. Delta reduced its flights by 40 percent in March due to plummeting demand, while the International Air Transport Association projected that airlines could see between an 11 and 19 percent loss in global passenger revenues through the end of this year.

The pandemic has made it harder to buy a new laptop (1)

Then, there’s the matter of getting the assembled laptops across the ocean. Tight port restrictions are a hassle for ocean freight, and the logistics of transporting units from ports to warehouses, stores, and ultimately your home are another battle entirely. Many couriers, including UPS and FedEx, have suspended their service guarantees (which promise you a refund if you don’t get your package), citing COVID-19’s disruptions to supply chains, travel restrictions, and limited flight capacity, and noting that they anticipated delays. Container volume in Shanghai fell by 20 percent year over year this past February, and cargo volume in Los Angeles fell by 23 percent, according to a New York Times report.

Deb expects units that were slated to arrive in the US by mid-April could arrive a month and a half later. “Production is speeding back up, but it takes time for it to get finished, get loaded up, get shipped over,” said Deb.

But experts say the biggest problem is that COVID-19 has brought a spike in demand — one that supply chains, even at full capacity, weren’t set up to service. “You can’t just decide today you’re gonna build one and sell it tomorrow,” Stephen Baker, vice president and industry advisor at the NPD Group, said of laptops. “You don’t plan for sales to go up 40 percent when sales are going down every week by 30 percent.” (PC sales saw a sharp year-over-year decline in Q1, following early lockdowns in China.)

“You can’t just decide today you’re gonna build one and sell it tomorrow”

The surge began in mid-March, when the US first went into lockdown, but it’s still going: during the week ending May 23rd, Windows notebooks and Chromebooks saw a mid-40 percent year-over-year increase in unit sales according to the NPD Group. During the week ending May 2nd, TV, tablet, and PC sales saw a 33 percent year-over-year increase in revenue, and a 38 percent increase in unit sales. “It’s some of the fastest growth rates this category has seen in a long, long time,” said Michael Lagoni, CEO of Stackline.

And, of course, supply constraints make it hard to gauge how much demand there really is. “If there’s a lot of demand that is being unfulfilled because people want something specific and they can’t get it, we can’t really tell that,” said Baker. “When you can’t fulfill everything but you’re still selling 40 percent more than you did last year, you can’t really see that missing piece.” He noted, though, that “as weeks go by and you have that same level of growth, that makes you believe that there’s still a lot more demand left in the marketplace.”

One contributor is the nation’s new fleet of remote workers; Gallup polls from the end of May found that 40 percent of Americans are “always” working from home due to the pandemic, and 22 percent of Americans “sometimes” do. Gartner predicted that 48 percent of employees will work remotely after the pandemic, compared to 30 percent who did so pre-pandemic.

The pandemic has made it harder to buy a new laptop (2)

Another is students, over 40 million of whom have been impacted by school closures. This is apparent from the fact that sales of cheaper devices have exploded in recent months. Stackline found that online laptop sales had an average sale price (ASP) of $516 in March, compared to $730 throughout 2019; it’s the lowest ASP Stackline has ever seen, outside of Prime Day and Cyber Monday. Search volume for the phrase “laptops on sale” is higher, too — over 30 times higher than the first few months of 2019. Laptop sales under $700 also grew around twice as fast as the overall category through April and May.

“We think a big driving force behind this is that a lot of students now have to do their schoolwork at home, and many of them didn’t have a laptop at home,” Lagoni said. “So you saw a huge surge in orders for those student-based, lower entry price point models.”

And, of course, with people stuck at home, the desire for a better entertainment experience comes to the forefront. “A lot of people use their computers to watch Netflix or other kinds of streaming services,” Baker said. “If you have an old computer you might not want to watch those things on an old screen with a slow processor. We’re seeing people upgrade to the extent they can on those kinds of features.”

“Consumer confidence has been going down”

Experts think, however, that the surge isn’t likely to last. Though, given the unpredictability of the pandemic, it’s difficult to say how long it will last.

COVID outbreaks may be temporary, but the economic consequences are less so. Gartner forecasted last week that worldwide device shipments will still decline 13.6 percent in 2020, and PC shipments will decline by 10.5 percent — though shipments of laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks will decline a bit more slowly than the PC category.

“Consumer confidence has been going down,” says Kitagawa. “There are huge numbers of unemployment happening, and people feel so uncomfortable about these economic uncertainties. They’re gonna tighten their spending.”

Whether to buy a laptop now depends on how flexible you are and how wed you are to one specific model. “The supply is going to be eased out going forward, so you might have more options later in the year,” says Kitagawa. She guessed that growth might continue through the end of this year, but emphasized that it’s hard to put a specific end date on stock shortages.

If you need a laptop now, your best bet is flexibility; the more models you’re willing to go for, and the more retailers you’re willing to dig through, the more likely it is you can find the configurations and specs you need with reasonable ship times.


Is there a shortage of new laptops? ›

The tech industry has been affected by the ongoing components shortage for nearly two years, but there's finally some good news for the PC and notebook markets. According to a new report from TrendForce, component material shortages for both PCs and laptops have been “partially alleviated” starting in November 2021.

What times during the year do you think people most likely to buy a new laptop? ›

In addition to Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, holiday weekends are generally the best time to buy a laptop, Kristen McGrath, RetailMeNot shopping expert, tells Reader's Digest. The back-to-school season (end of July/August) is another time to score buys.

Are people still buying laptops? ›

Over the past few years, laptops have become the de facto computer of choice for nearly everyone. Indeed, 166 million laptops were sold globally in 2019, whereas only 88 million desktops were sold in the same period, and the gap is expected to continue widening until at least 2024.

What questions to ask when buying a new laptop? ›

Six questions to ask before buying laptops for students
  • 1 What will the laptop be used for? ...
  • 2 Does it need to be portable? ...
  • 3 How much power do you need? ...
  • 4 Which OS – Windows, Mac or Chrome? ...
  • 5 What size screen? ...
  • 6 How important is entertainment?

Are laptop sales declining? ›

For all of 2022, laptop and desktop sales were down about 16% compared to 2021, according to all the three reports. Last year's decline was somewhat cushioned by a nearly historic year in PC sales in 2021, where year-over-year growth was around 15%.

How long should you wait to get a new laptop? ›

Most experts estimate a laptop's lifespan to be three to five years. It may survive longer than that, but its utility will be limited as the components become less capable of running advanced applications.

What is the most important factor when buying a laptop? ›

Budget. With all the understanding of performance specs and operating systems, the most important part of buying a new laptop is your budget. It's easy to recommend all the high-end components and features, but if you can't afford them, it won't matter. You want a laptop that functions that won't break the bank.

What do people consider before they buy a laptop? ›

6 Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop

Type (2-in-1, ultrabook, etc.) Operating system (Mac OS, Chrome OS, or Windows) Graphics and Display. Processor and RAM.

When buying laptop What is the important things to consider? ›

Choosing the right Operating System (OS) is the first and the most important step when buying a new laptop as it determines the environment you will work in.

Is it a good moment to buy a laptop? ›

Certain stores and manufacturers may have sales on laptops throughout the year. But experts argue that the spring, late summer and the holiday season are generally the best times to buy a laptop (if you want a discount). Of course, it all depends on what you want.

Is buying a new laptop worth it? ›

If you are left squinting at your laptop as the picture quality is simply not up to scratch, a new laptop can prove to be a highly useful investment. Not only will you be able to see all your work documents better, but images and videos will also appear in a much higher resolution.

Is it good idea to buy old laptop? ›

Second hand laptop is always a good deal from a financial standpoint. When you buy a second hand laptop, you receive all of the features for 20-30 per cent less than the original price. These savings can enable you to achieve high-performance computing for a fraction of the cost of a new computer.

What are five 5 factors to consider when buying a laptop? ›

7 Important Factors to Consider When Buying a New Laptop
  • Size. One of the best features of a laptop is its ability to slip into a laptop bag and travel the world with you. ...
  • RAM. ...
  • Screen Quality. ...
  • Battery Life. ...
  • CPU. ...
  • Storage. ...
  • USB 3.0 Ports.

What should you think about before you buy a new computer? ›

Five Things to Consider When Purchasing a New Computer (Updated 11/2022)
  • What will the PC be used for? ...
  • How much memory does the PC come with? ...
  • What type of storage do you need? ...
  • How much processor do you need? ...
  • Do you need a dedicated graphics card? ...
  • 5 Things to Consider When Buying a New Monitor.

What is the first thing to do when you buy a new laptop? ›

10 Essential Things to Do When You Get a New Computer
  • First of all, power. ...
  • Everything is in the right place. ...
  • Protecting from scratches. ...
  • Next, update your OS (and optionally re-partition) ...
  • Time for security software. ...
  • Install your favorite software. ...
  • Make sure you install an antivirus. ...
  • Measure performance.

Will laptop prices come down in 2022? ›

The material costs are set to go up whereas the pandemic has led to shortages on several fronts. The report says that TSMC expects logistics and freight charges also to go up in 2022. Which companies will be affected the most? AMD, Nvidia and Intel.

Why are computer sales declining? ›

For the year, PC shipments reached 286.2 million units in 2022, a 16.2% decrease from 2021. “The anticipation of a global recession, increased inflation and higher interest rates have had a major impact on PC demand,” said Mikako Kitagawa, Director Analyst at Gartner.

Why are laptops in short supply? ›

Around 14 million PCs (laptops and desktops) were sold in India in 2021. There is a scarcity of chipsets and other key components like power management integrated circuits and displays. There are issues related to shipping and logistics as well.

How many years a laptop should last? ›

There are plenty of variables, but you can expect a well-maintained laptop to last for three to five years. The laptop lifespan is shorter than a desktop PC due to its compact stature.

How much should you spend on a new laptop? ›

I have found the best price-to-performance range for Windows laptops to be between about $600 and $800 for most people. For that, you're generally getting above-average build quality, performance, battery life, and portability.

What is the average price of a computer 2022? ›

U.S. Laptop and Tablet Computer Import Price August 2022

In August 2022, the average laptop and tablet computer price amounted to $495 (CIF, US) per unit, rising by 4.5% against the previous month. Over the period from January 2022 to August 2022, it increased at an average monthly rate of +1.4%.

What is the most important factor to consider when buying computer? ›

Whether you're buying a laptop, desktop or tablet computer, it's essential that you take the time to consider the device's processor, hard drive, memory, graphics card and operating system before making your purchase. These five components make up the meat and potatoes of your computer.

What factors influence the demand for laptops? ›

Factors Affecting Demand
  • Price of the Product. ...
  • The Consumer's Income. ...
  • The Price of Related Goods. ...
  • The Tastes and Preferences of Consumers. ...
  • The Consumer's Expectations. ...
  • The Number of Consumers in the Market.

Which brand of laptop is best? ›

Top 10 Laptop Brands: A Short List
  • Lenovo. ...
  • Dell. ...
  • Acer. ...
  • Asus. ...
  • MSI. ...
  • Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Surface is a crowd pleaser for various reasons. ...
  • Razer. The gaming laptops from Razer with their powerful sensors and amazing display features justify their high price tags. ...
  • Samsung.

What to Do Before Selling an old laptop? ›

What should you do to a computer before you sell it?
  1. Step 1: Back up all your files. The first thing you want to do is make sure you back up everything you need. ...
  2. Step 2: Deauthorize any software. ...
  3. Step 3: Securely Format Your Hard Drive. ...
  4. Step 4: Reinstall the Operating System. ...
  5. Step 5: Clean it Up. ...
  6. More from Lifehacker:
Dec 8, 2012

Is Costco a good place to buy laptop? ›

Not only does the brand claim a considerable amount of quality as its goods go, but every item has a full return policy, making it a fairly safe way to shop for bigger purchases like TVs or laptops without sweating it too much.

Should I buy a new computer now or wait? ›

In short, if you can wait six months to a year to start your next build, you'll find your high-end choices greatly expanded. Of course that isn't all that helpful if you need a new PC right now. If you just can't wait, you'll still see some amazing performance compared to a desktop from just a few years ago.

How many hours should a good laptop last? ›

If you're just web browsing or sending emails or any other kind of simple tasks, you might be able to get 4-5 hours out of cheapest laptop batteries out there and as high as 10-12+ hours out of the best laptop batteries out there. The other factor to consider is the age of your battery.

Is it better to buy used laptop or new laptop? ›

New: Buying new is the priciest option, but it's also the safest since you'll be the first to use the laptop with a full warranty. Used: These are the most affordable, but without quality assurance or guarantees, you're relying solely on the word of the seller.

What do you do with old outdated laptops? ›

Recycle your laptop

You can take your old laptop to Best Buy, which operates a robust recycling program. Laptop manufacturers like Apple, Dell, Lenovo, and HP also have recycling programs, and sometimes will recycle your old laptop for free. (Along with many other types of electronics.)

Is it better to upgrade an old laptop? ›

Upgrading your computer can bring you more speed and storage space at a fraction of the cost of a new computer, but you don't want to put new components in an old system if it's not going to deliver the speed increase you want.

What are 4 essential components to look for when buying a computer? ›

These are the 5 major components of a computer that you need to know about:
  • Motherboard. ...
  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) ...
  • Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) ...
  • Random Access Memory (RAM) ...
  • Storage device.
Oct 6, 2022

Which laptop brand is best 2022? ›

The best laptops you can buy today
  1. Dell XPS 13 OLED (2021) The best overall laptop you can buy. ...
  2. Acer Swift 5 (2022) Best Acer laptop. ...
  3. MacBook Air M2. ...
  4. HP Envy 16 (2021) ...
  5. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (15-inch, AMD) ...
  6. Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360. ...
  7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9th Gen) ...
  8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)
Feb 10, 2023

Why it is important to know about computer while purchasing one? ›

Being knowledgeable about what you need is the best way to save both time and money and make sure you have a reliable machine that does its job right. Before shopping, consider how you're going to use your new computer and do a little investigation to determine whether it's rated as a good buy for your buck.

Why should need to purchase a new computer? ›

Having an old computer and not being able to upgrade to the latest OS can give rise to a whole new set of problems, such as programs that are no longer compatible. Programs you are currently using, such as Microsoft Office, may no longer work.

What is the easiest laptop for seniors? ›

  • Best Computers For Older Adults Of 2023.
  • Acer Spin 3.
  • Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 5.
  • Lenovo Yoga 6 2-in-1 Laptop.
  • Asus Chromebook Flip CM3.
  • Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop.
  • Our Methodology.
Jan 17, 2023

What is the best way to take care of a new laptop? ›

How To Make Your Laptop Last Longer: The 10 Cs of Computer Care
  1. Keep it CURRENT. ...
  2. Keep it CLEAN ON THE OUTSIDE. ...
  3. Keep it CLEAN ON THE INSIDE. ...
  4. Keep it COOL. ...
  5. Keep it CONSISTENT. ...
  6. Keep it CUSHIONED. ...
  7. Keep the CORD in good shape. ...
  8. Keep it on CONTINUOUSLY when you're using it.

How do you know when you need a new laptop? ›

If you're dealing with a slow computer that doesn't get updates, it's probably because of your outdated specs. New programs need more processing power than an old laptop can generate. If you're using an ancient laptop, you have less RAM to work with. Running multiple programs can slow your computer to a snail's crawl.

Are new laptops slower first? ›

The leading causes of a slow new laptop are bloatware, a slow primary drive, underpowered CPU or RAM, inadequate pagefile size, too many programs that load at startup, or insufficient cooling that causes CPU throttling.

Why is there a shortage on my laptop? ›

Around 14 million PCs (laptops and desktops) were sold in India in 2021. There is a scarcity of chipsets and other key components like power management integrated circuits and displays. There are issues related to shipping and logistics as well.

Why are laptops low in stock? ›

The Coronavirus-induced lockdown had shut down all production facilities globally. The sudden demand for laptops, thanks to work-from-home, has triggered an acute shortage of chips that are crucial for running PCs. Laptop users watch out.

Is it a good time to buy a laptop now? ›

Certain stores and manufacturers may have sales on laptops throughout the year. But experts argue that the spring, late summer and the holiday season are generally the best times to buy a laptop (if you want a discount). Of course, it all depends on what you want.

How long does it take for laptops to restock? ›

usually the laptop will be restock after a week. if u're lucky, some one might go back again and return it because they got the wrong product. go check again every night. Each store gets shipments on different days, I Would call ahead to make sure they actually have the product you are looking for..

Why are computers hard to get right now? ›

The short answer is a global chip shortage caused by a confluence of factors ranging from the ongoing pandemic to geopolitical tension and, as always, some crypto nonsense.

What is the biggest problem with laptops? ›

Overheating can rob your laptop of performance and often cause a host of hiccups, such as system crashes and freezing. Every computer generates lots of heat, but laptops are especially susceptible to overheating due to their small size and lack of ventilation.

What is the most common problem with laptops? ›

Battery won't charge or gets drained too quickly

This is one of the most common laptop problems. It is quite straightforward too. In almost all the cases, it's the battery that is causing the problem.

Are laptops more expensive because of the chip shortage? ›

The global chip shortage is bumping up the cost of laptops, phones, and printers, the WSJ reported. An ASUSTek laptop jumped from $900 to $950 in June, while a HP Chromebook rose from $220 to $250. Chip makers say they're passing on higher costs they face to gadget companies.

Why are computer prices dropping? ›

Economic uncertainty and decreased consumer demand are taking a toll on the tablet and PC markets. The silver lining for buyers is that excess inventory is forcing manufacturers to heavily discount prices.

Will computer prices ever go down? ›

Demand for computers is down. And so are shipments of PCs, according to new data from two different firms. Gartner said computer shipments are down almost 20% year over year; International Data Corp. said they're down 15%.


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