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Tech Rides High On Back-To-School Shopping Lists

It’s that time of year again — back-to-school — when parents and CE retailers alike rejoice.

According to research released by The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), 59 percent of American consumers who plan to do back-to-school shopping intend to buy a technology product, an increase of 12 percentage points over last year.

CTA estimates $18.5 billion will be spent this year on back-to-school tech products/accessories in 2016, a 6.2 percent increase over last year.

Here are the top 10 back-to-school tech products consumers plan to buy this year:

1. Portable memory (71 percent)
2. Basic calculator (55 percent)
3. Headphones (52 percent)
4. Scientific/graphing calculator (51 percent)
5. Carrying or protective case (48 percent)
6. Laptop (44 percent)
7. Software for computer (39 percent)
8. External hard drive (23 percent)
9. Tablet (22 percent)
10. Product subscription service (22 percent)

“Early back-to-school promotions are building interest and momentum for the second-largest shopping event of the year,” said Steve Koenig, CTA’s market research senior director. “Deals on the tech items for back-to-school including 2-in-1 laptops, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, tablets and more are creating excitement among consumers. This consumer enthusiasm also bodes well for tech sales across the second-half of the year.”

Related: Back-To-School Spending To Hit $7B: NRF

Almost all back-to-school shoppers (95 percent) plan to visit physical stores to complete their shopping. Of those, mass merchant stores dominate, at 88 percent, followed by office supply stores at 56 percent. Also popular: department stores (47 percent), discount or thrift stores (43 percent), and consumer tech specialty stores (36 percent).

Almost half of back-to-school shoppers (49 percent) plan to shop at an online retailer, with 80 percent citing online-only sites like Amazon and 69 percent will shop at traditional retailers’ sites.

Most back-to school shopping takes place in the month of August (60 percent), and a large majority of consumers will begin back-to-school shopping either one month before school starts (41 percent) or one to four weeks before school starts (40 percent).

Overall, adoption of the Internet of Things and enthusiasm for emerging tech will drive the U.S. consumer technology industry to $286.6 billion in retail revenues in 2016, according to CTA’s U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts, a semi-annual report that forecasts 300+ product categories including back-to-school staples such as two-in-one laptops, tablets, smartphones, headphones, Bluetooth speakers and more.