Tech Takes Strong Black Friday Share: CTA

Almost 57 million shoppers expected to give the gift of tech
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Black Friday came and went and technology products once again played a crucial role in shoppers' gift-giving plans, according the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

An estimated 56.9 million American adults -- 45 percent of all shoppers -- bought or plan to buy tech products during the Thanksgiving shopping week, which began the Monday before Thanksgiving and continues through today, Cyber Monday, CTA reported.

Overall, CTA's 2015 Post Black Friday Survey estimates Americans will spend $40 billion over the entire 2015 Thanksgiving shopping week. Consumers who shopped spent an average of $319, a 14 percentage point decrease compared with 2014, yet higher spending than in 2013.

In total, 27 percent of U.S. adults shopped on Black Friday (up from 24 percent in 2014) and 10 percent shopping on Thanksgiving Day (down from 14 percent last year).

And the shopping week isn't over yet. More than 44 million U.S. adults -- 18 percent of total shoppers -- said they plan to shop on Cyber Monday, on par with last year. Additionally, 105 million U.S. adults who shopped or plan to shop Black Friday week say they will still have some shopping to do by the end of the holiday week.

"Black Friday is in the books, and consumers have once again shown a strong preference to buy tech," said Shawn DuBravac, CTA's chief economist, on a conference call with reporters on Sunday. “Consumers began shopping deals and promotions the Monday before Thanksgiving, and momentum continued throughout the week, peaking with the traditional Black Friday weekend."

CTA's survey also found the number of online and mobile shoppers quickly approaching the number of in-store shoppers this year. Among the 125 million Americans planning to shop throughout the week, a combined 85 percent did some of their shopping online or via a mobile device, compared with the 94 percent who shopped in physical stores.

Of those who shopped Black Friday Week 2015, 74 percent shopped online and 57 percent shopped using a mobile device. Among Americans who shopped online this year, 85 percent cited avoiding crowds as their top reason, 79 percent said saving time and 78 percent cited finding better or similar deals online compared to in stores. Interestingly, 57 percent of consumers indicated they chose to shop online to enable them to shop outside of physical store hours.

"Black Friday shopping continues its evolution into a full week shopping period, no longer solely defined by crowded stores and door-buster deals," said DuBravac. And for the consumer technology industry over all, about 27 percent of the year’s sales came during the holiday quarter, only slightly more than during other times of the year, he said.

DuBravac added that, while Black Friday is no longer the sole bellwether of holiday sales success for retailers, it remains critically important for fledgling product categories and emerging technologies.

“For new categories, historically, more than half of the volume in early years shows up in the fourth quarter,” DuBravac said, citing previous examples such as DVDs, HDTVs, Blu-ray players and Apple’s iPad.

“That’s what we’ll likely see with smart watches this year,” he said. “Half of overall volume for smart watches should show up in the holiday quarter.”

For the first time, fitness activity trackers and digital streaming devices broke into the top ten most-purchased holiday tech products, DuBravac said. "The perennial Black Friday tech favorites such as smartphones and televisions dominated American's tech purchases again this year."

Among the 56.9 million American adults who bought or are planning to buy tech products over the 2015 Black Friday Week, the top 10 tech purchases broke down like this:

1. Smartphones

2. Televisions

3. Tablets

4. Tech accessories

5. Laptops

6. Videogame consoles

7. DVD/Blu-Ray Players

8. Headphones

9. Fitness activity trackers

10. Digital media streaming devices

CTA expects total tech spending during the entire holiday shopping season to increase 2.3 percent to reach a record $34.2 billion in 2015.

More than half of those surveyed will consider themselves all done (14 percent) or mostly finished (36 percent) with their holiday shopping at the close of the shopping week. On the other hand, 11 percent of Americans indicate they have not started their holiday shopping, 20 percent have barely started and 17 percent say they still have a lot more shopping left.

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