Monitors getting more expensive, headphones getting cheaper. How are prices changing during a pandemic?

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During Covid-19, the lives of many people have changed a lot. Due to restrictions, they had to work from home and create their small home offices there. It became such a standard that, as recent research has shown, 80% of U.S. workers would not accept a new job position if it doesn’t offer a flexible working place. But to work comfortably at home, one has to buy a set of necessary office supplies such as a printer, headphones, or a computer monitor. Did an increased demand affect market prices? Did sellers, seeing an increased market, try to increase their margin?

Which products will be analyzed?


To understand the change in the price of office supplies, we have analyzed the historical data of the most important categories of products, mostly from the middle price range.

The chosen products are:

  • headphones,
  • computer monitors,
  • printers,
  • coffee machines,
  • cooling pads for laptops,
  • computer speakers.

Choosing the products from the Dealavo database, we have considered a few factors such as availability of the product at the beginning of pandemic and now, availability of the product in at least 4 of 8 chosen e-commerce shops, choosing products from different brands and diverse price shelves. The analyzed data are from March 1st, so before Covid regulations in the majority of countries, till the end of November, to cover Black Friday time. The analysis was made based on the Polish market and the eight biggest online shops with electronics. 

Headphones

In many cases, remote work requires attending online meetings. Not to disturb other people at home and to ensure that the quality of the sound is proper, one should have good headphones with a microphone. For this purpose we have chosen the following devices:

Model The average price in March [€]
Savio Wireless TWS-02 13.03
Apple MNHF2ZM 26.54
Sony Bluetooth WIC200W 30.78
Panasonic Sport RP-BTS 10E 34.67
JBL Bluetooth LIVE 500BT white 110.84
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ 158.93

As shown in the table above, in the analyzed group there is one product from the price shelf below 20€, 4 products below 120€, and one above 150€. Let’s see how the prices evolved for these headphones between the 1st of March and the 30th of November.

To show if the price of a product rises or falls in the long period, the price trend lines were added to the plots. One can see that from March to November, almost all the products were getting cheaper. The only exception, in which the price was stable, was Apple headphones. However, the trend line can be misleading. Let’s check then how the prices look like when we compare the average price of a product in November versus the average price in March. Did products really get cheaper, or maybe the summer rise of prices made the trend line descending? 

In the chart above it can be observed that the prices of all the products have dropped since March. The products that got cheaper the most are these from the upper price shelf. However, even the cheapest product, Savio headphones, got cheaper by 6.27%. Of course, the most visible discounts were for the most expensive products (JBL and Samsung by over 25€) but the descending trend of prices should make all the buyers happy. 

Computer monitors

In many industries, to work efficiently, one has to work on many files at the same time. At the office, it is normal to have more than one screen in front of you, thus coming back to only one screen can be a challenge. For this comparison, we have chosen the following devices:

Model The average price in March [€]
BENQ 27 GL2780 1MS 148.97
LG 27″ 27MK430H-B 167.52
DELL 27” E2720HS IPS LED FULLHD 170.4
IIYAMA 27″ B2791HSU-B1 202.23
ACER 27″ XF270HBBMIIPRZX 237.13
MSI Optix G32C4 346.39
PHILIPS 27″ 272B7QUPBEB QUADHD 378.19
ASUS 27 VG27AQ WQHD IPS 155HZ 494.39

The same as with headphones, we have chosen models from different price shelves. Let’s see how the prices of chosen monitors looked like in the last months.

Seeing the plots above, one can see that the price of many monitors started rising at the beginning of March, to start decreasing in May. To observe the trend for all the products in a better way, the initial price for every product from 1st of March was indexed as 100 and all the further price changes are reflected in the change of index. For example, if the initial price was equal to 500, its index was set as 100. If the price dropped by 5, to 495, for that day the index will be equal to 99.

This methodology allows us to observe a group of products at different prices, where all the products should have the same influence on the average change. The daily average index for every product is presented below in the same time range as previous plots.

 

Seeing the plots above, one can see that the price of many monitors started rising at the beginning of March, to start decreasing in May. To observe the trend for all the products in a better way, the initial price for every product from 1st of March was indexed as 100 and all the further price changes are reflected in the change of index. For example, if the initial price was equal to 500, its index was set as 100. If the price dropped by 5, to 495, for that day the index will be equal to 99.

This methodology allows us to observe a group of products at different prices, where all the products should have the same influence on the average change. The daily average index for every product is presented below in the same time range as previous plots.

On this plot, one can see that the prices of the cheapest products are higher than they were in March. However, the most expensive products got cheaper, some even by 10% (for MSI by 35 euro and Philips by 40 euro). Due to such a fall in prices of products from the high price shelf, the overall trend of analyzed products is descending and in summary, the drop in prices for the whole group equals 3.8%.

Printers

In everyday work life, sometimes it happens that email approval is not enough and it is necessary to sign a document by hand. Then, one has to print the document, sign it, and scan it. While the newest technology allows us to scan documents using the phone’s camera, the problem of printing is not solvable so easily. This causes the need for a printer in our home office.

For this, we have chosen 4 printers, of 4 different manufacturers, 3 from products up to 200 euro, and one from the highest price shelf- for over 1000 euro.

Model The average price in March [€]
Printer BROTHER HL-1112E 58.02
Printer CANON SFP MONO LBP112 100.85
LASER.HP LASERJET PRO M304A 201.31
Laser printer OKI C834DNW 1197.87

Once again, let’s see how the price trends looked like for the last months.

Considering laser printers, one can observe a slightly different trend than in the case of previous products. Apart from the printer of the OKI company, one can see that prices between products start to equalize. Starting from over 140 euro of the price gap between products in March, in November it was only around 50 euro. Prices of the cheapest products (Canon, Brother) were rising, while the price of HP printer drastically decreased, becoming a competition for models, with which it wasn’t even on the same price shelf in March.

Model The average price in November[€]
Printer BROTHER HL-1112E 96.74
Printer CANON SFP MONO LBP112 109.2
LASER.HP LASERJET PRO M304A 147.8
Laser printer OKI C834DNW 1214.98

Let’s see how the percentage change in prices of analyzed products looked like between November and March.

The price difference for the 3 cheapest products is according to the observed trends. OKI printer does not compete with products from the lower price shelf and the overall situation has not influenced the price of the printer in the upper segment. On its price trend, one can observe that the price was slightly growing, however, the rise was only 1.4% of the price from March.

Summary

The current pandemic situation in the world had different influences on different products. The prices of headphones dropped by 12% on average and in the inspected group there was no brand which price rose. From monitors, there was a visible rise in prices at the beginning of the pandemic, however, at the end of November, the price index was equal to 99.4, which shows that, considering the investigated group, the prices do not change. Prices of cheaper products rose, while prices of more expensive products dropped, which in summary gives a stable trend.

Considering printers, the prices of products from below 200 euro started to equalize, while the highest price shelf was without change.

In the second part of the article, we will analyze the prices of laptop cooling pads, coffee makers, and computer speakers.

Start monitoring prices!