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Tech Resellers See Revenue Gain

Commercial resellers saw a rise in sales in December, indicating that tech spending among small and medium-sized businesses is on the rebound.

U.S. technology sales through commercial resellers, which primarily serve small and medium-sized businesses, rose 7% in December, an indication that spending among SMBs is on the rebound, a market research firm said Thursday.

Sales reached $1.6 billion last month, representing the first and only year-over-year revenue gain last year, the NPD Group said. Sales through the channel had been improving gradually since September, with October marking the first month in 2009 with less than double-digit revenue declines.

For the full year, reseller sales plunged 12% year-over-year to $16.3 billion. While spending was flat in the fourth quarter, the three prior quarters saw declines in the mid-teens.

Nevertheless, the substantial improvement in the last quarter of 2009 bodes well for this year, NPD said.

"With revenue growth coming as much from stable ASPs (average selling prices) as from unit growth, SMBs are likely still buying on need," NPD analyst Stephen Baker said in a statement. "But, having key metrics such as units and ASP trending positively across multiple categories provides a solid underpinning for growth in 2010."

Among the different tech categories, revenue from desktop computers in December rose the highest year-over-year at 40%, followed by notebooks, at 13%. The ASPs for the two categories were $678 and $920, respectively. The ASP for notebooks fell 21% from a year ago, while the desktop ASP rose 8%.

Revenue from servers increased 8%, but unit shipments fell 4%. The ASP for servers rose 13% to $3,086.

While the sales numbers in general were positive, Baker cautioned that the trend would have to continue in the first quarter in order to be considered real. That's because the upswing is in comparison to December 2008, which was at the height of the economic recession.

"Comparisons against the generational meltdown during the fourth quarter of 2008 are likely to be a bit flawed and... we do need to see these trends continue through the first quarter of 2010 to be certain that these are not just false positives," Baker said in his blog.

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