The virus has led to a spike in sales of mid-priced laptops, with students buying them en masse as classes move online, and professionals skipping the commute and working remotely, traders said.
Existing stocks have sold out, and with the northern border with China remaining closed till last week, potential buyers will have to wait until new shipments arrive, they said. Nepal imports most of its laptops from China.
Computer sellers said the coming batch of laptops would be dearer by Rs8,000 to Rs9,000 each as a result of the Nepali rupee falling against the dollar, and shippers doubling freight charges because of Covid-19.
Sales of Lenovo laptops jumped by almost 20-25 percent, and dealers would have sold more but demand outpaced supply, said Biken Sai, marketing manager at Megha Trade, the authorised distributor of Lenovo laptops in the domestic market.
“We have not been able to meet the growing demand for lack of stock,” he said. As the northern border was closed for several months, dealers were all sold out.
Laptop is one of the items at the top of the shopping list during the Dashain shopping spree, but the expected festival binge has not happened because fresh shipments have not arrived, Sai said.
The new models that arrived after the first lockdown was lifted got sold out. The latest launches in the global market have not reached the domestic market either, he said. Sai added that the price of Lenovo laptops had increased by 5-7 percent.
Laptop dealers usually launch the latest models during Dashain and provide schemes and offers, but this year they plan to skip the promos.
According to dealers and retailers, the majority of people look for laptops priced between Rs30,000 and Rs40,000 for online classes, and this mid-range machine is seeing record-breaking sales.
“Most parents look for laptops in the range of Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 for school-level online classes while students in higher education look for laptops in the Rs45,000-Rs65,000 range,” said Sai. High-priced laptops are not so much in demand as mid-range machines, he said.
Customers are more concerned about prices matching their budget than models and functions, said Sai.
As the number of internet users is increasing, laptop sales have also been swelling, said Sai.
Sales were already high after lockdown restrictions were eased the first time, and the growth trajectory is continuing, said dealers.
Almost all laptop models costing less than Rs70,000 have been snapped up, said Sai.
Anuj Tamrakar, senior sales executive of CAS Trading House, the authorised distributor of HP laptops in Nepal, said that shipments would arrive in the market after Dashain.
The new laptops will cost more by 15-18 percent, said Tamrakar. The price of a machine costing Rs40,000 previously will go up to Rs49,000.
Almost 50 percent of the students have purchased laptops for online classes, he said. As in previous years when people used to wait for Dashain offers, would-be laptop buyers are biding their time.
“As people’s incomes have been hit by the pandemic, we are not expecting much from Dashain festive shopping as those who need computers have already bought them,” he said.
According to Tamrakar, buying by corporates is down, and high-range laptops are not in demand as before.
HP laptops costing more than Rs85,000 are sitting on store shelves while mid-range machines are all sold, he said. Shipments that were supposed to come earlier did not arrive on time due to the lockdown and restriction orders.
Anup Bajracharya, owner of My Computer Shop on New Road, said sales at his store had doubled due to online classes
Prices have increased by Rs8,000-Rs9,000 each, he said. Demand has increased massively due to online classes with only a few buyers buying laptops to work from home.
Bajracharya, who has been selling different brands of laptops for 15 years, said that laptops became a necessity this year. He said he had not seen such record-breaking sales in past years.
Parents are buying laptops for their children even by borrowing money from relatives and friends, he said. The number of people looking for laptops increased from Saturday, but there are limited stocks in the market, he said.