Electronic Products & Technology

Holiday tech spending to reach $142.5B

CTA study shows buying led by smartphones, laptops, wearables

November 7, 2021  EP&T Magazine

Consumer spending on tech products and services during the 2021 holiday season (October-December) is projected to reach $142.5 billion – a 0.5% increase from 2020, according to new research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The 28th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report found that 83% of U.S. adults are unaffected by or more likely to purchase tech due to the pandemic. 44% said their tech purchasing would not be affected by the pandemic, up 4 percentage points from 2020, signaling consumers remain enthusiastic about tech a year after the pandemic provided many with more time to try out new products and services.

Source: Getty Images

An all-time high of approximately 191.3 million U.S. adults plan to purchase technology as a gift this holiday season. On average, respondents indicate they plan to spend an estimated $541 on technology gifts. Like years past, the most popular recipient of technology products this holiday season is consumers themselves (41%), followed closely by one’s spouse (37%).

2021 Top 5 Tech Wish List

Smartphones have once again topped consumers’ list for tech gifts they most want to receive this year. Wearable devices jumped from fifth most popular in 2020 to third this season, largely driven by increased interest in real-time health monitoring technology. Overall, the top five tech products U.S. adults would like to receive as gifts include:

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  1. Smartphones
  2. Laptop/Notebook Computers
  3. Wearable Devices
  4. Televisions, and
  5. Tied: Video Game Consoles and Tablets/E-Readers

“The surge in consumer spending on tech is being fueled by the ongoing value people find in these products and services, even amid a pandemic,” said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of market research for CTA. “The pandemic gave people more time and incentive to discover the many ways technology can improve their lives – from more entertainment options, connection to friends and family, remote working tools and so much more. A notable change from recent years is retailers continuing to pull forward and capture sales earlier in the holiday season – particularly in the wake of recent and ongoing supply chain challenges many consumers are actively watching.”

Smartphone and 5G Phone Outlook

With smartphone replacement rates reaching four-plus years (reported in CTA’s Mobile and Wireless 5-Year Forecast report), smartphone interest during this holiday season is expected to be strong, with 48% of holiday tech shoppers expecting to purchase one as a gift (up from 41% in 2019). 5G phones are at the top of the smartphone buying list, with 62% of overall holiday smartphone buyers expecting to purchase one with 5G capabilities and 29% planning to buy a foldable phone.

Health & Safety Products

COVID-19 has elevated interest in home and personal health and safety products:

* 29% interested in smart or connected health monitoring devices, such as those used to measure body temperature, sleep patterns or blood pressure

* 32% expect to buy a smart home security camera compared to 29% last year

* 24% interested in purchasing smart cleaning solutions, such as UV light sanitizers

Gaming Consoles and Other Entertain-at-Home Products Show Strong Gains

Interest in home video game consoles is up to 45% this holiday season from 33% in 2019. Additionally, 71% indicate they plan to purchase at least one content-related product this season, such as a gaming, video, fitness, or audio streaming services.

Work-at-Home Theme Plays Out

“Accessorizing” or expanding in-home workspaces and computing capabilities will persist into this holiday season, showcased by interest in these products:

* Printers – 29% 

* Desktop computers – 27% 

* Computer monitors – 25% 

The report presents the findings of an online survey conducted by Engine, a collaborative research partner, among a total sample of 2008 U.S. adults between September 9 and 13, 2021. The margin of sampling error at 95% confidence for aggregate results is +/- 2.2%.


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