Distribution trends in times of COVID-19: Page 2 of 4

June 11, 2020 // By Mark Burr-Lonnon, Jeff Newell
Despite anticipated supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 lockdown, Mouser Electronics held up well during the pandemic. In the form of this Q&A article, the distributor’s VPs share their insight on how the different markets they address behaved during the pandemic.

Jeff: From a product perspective, while we don’t necessarily forecast product growth as such, there are a number of interesting aspects worth noting.

Jeff Newell is Senior Vice President,
Products at Mouser Electronics.

Firstly, we fully expected the capacitor business to rebound this year. It was down significantly in 2019 because of its strength in 2018. And everybody that I was talking to, internal and external, expected that to come back. That has not happened. While the sales are down considerably, the volume sold is only down by about 3%, so we are still shipping a lot of product. A lot of growth was predicted to come from the automotive sector, but clearly that isn’t doing so well now. We’re still shipping a lot of different product lines into our automotive customers, but the quantities are relatively small, highlighting that it is more likely to be design activity rather than consumption for production.

Another category of products worth mentioning is discretes. They were up a lot in 2018, down in 2019 and have yet to recover their position. We can’t work out why, and the discrete suppliers we talk to share the same concerns. It probably requires more research and insight to make a valued judgement on this, but since discretes go into pretty much everything, it is odd for one technology to be down so much while other areas of our business are not. The only conclusion we can make is that there is either a glut of inventory, or the industries that were affected negatively; automotive, industrial, oil and gas must take a decent amount of that product, and they're just not buying right now.

On the positive side, we expected to see growth coming from microprocessors, microcontrollers, analog, and interconnect. Those categories are up this year, and even some passive areas, such as resistors and inductors are doing very well.

Another area we wanted to focus on this year is dev tools. We’ve signed new suppliers, new lines, and many of our existing suppliers are coming out with new dev boards and evaluation tools too. The industry continues to make it easier for design engineers to design in new products, so dev boards and eval kits are all showing strong sales for us this year. Interestingly, these dev tools are easy for engineers to buy themselves, so some engineers, say a hobbyist working for an OEM, can work on a design idea from home. I’d say we’re shipping more development tools now than we ever had before.

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