U.S. technology spending during this year’s holiday season is expected to reach a record $96.1 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), an increase of 3.4 percent.
In releasing its “25th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns Study,” the CTA said two-thirds of adults intend to purchase a tech product as a gift this season, which is on par with last year.
How they purchase these devices will continue to evolve, with 52 percent of Americans planning to shop online for tech this holiday season and 77 percent planning to shop in brick-and-mortar stores.
Growth in mobile shopping will once again surpass shopping via computer, with the number of consumers planning to shop via mobile devices rising to 58 percent.
Retailers, take note: One-third said they intend to take advantage of same-day delivery, while 31 percent will make use of such in-home delivery services as Amazon Key or Walmart Delivery.
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While just 9 percent said they intend to use such in-app features like camera search, use of digital assistants to research and purchase products continues to grow. Almost a quarter of respondents plan to research products and sales via a digital assistant, said CTA, and 16 percent intend to make a purchase using voice technology.
“Once again, voice will come to define this holiday season with more smart speakers on wish lists, added voice compatibility in tech devices and more voice shopping,” said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of market research, CTA. "Technology is playing the biggest role in not only what we buy as gifts, but how.”
Unsurprisingly, the industry can expect to see more consumers participating in Black October and Black November promotions. Over one-quarter (27 percent) said they plan to start their holiday shopping in October or earlier.
But, CTA noted, 83 percent don’t plan to purchase most or all of their gifts until November or December, at least partially thanks to the growing popularity of two- and same-day shipping programs.
Top 5 Most Wanted Tech Gifts Consumers Want to Receive
- Smartphone and Tablet (tied)
- Smart Watch
- Desktop computer and Any Type of Camera (tied)
“2018 has shown us that consumers are willing to spend a premium on technology that is essential to their everyday lives – such as smartphones, laptops and TVs — and we expect that dynamic to continue through the season, driving overall holiday consumer tech sales to a new high this year,” said Ben Arnold, senior director of innovation and trends, CTA. “In addition to those core devices, key emerging categories to watch this holiday season are smart home devices — powered by voice technology — smart watches and wireless earbuds.”
CTA cited several categories in which it expects consumers to spend a record amount. Among them:
Smart Speakers: Amazon's Echo and Google Home are projected to sell an expected 22 million units (up 44 percent over 2017). Six percent of overall shoppers will purchase one with a screen and 12 percent will purchase one without.
Smart Home Devices: Fueled by the popularity of voice technology, 36 percent of respondents plan to purchase a smart home product in 2018 – including smart speakers, security cameras, smart lightbulbs and video doorbells, said CTA.
Smart Watches: Nearly one in five of U.S. adults plan to buy a smart watch this year, with more than 7 million sold in 2018, a 26 percent increase.
Wireless Earbuds: This group will see a 60 percent increase vs. last year, with 5.3 million units sold.
Drones: This category will experience growth of 8 percent, with an expected 1.5 million units sold.
Arnold recently told TWICE that “early indications are pointing to a good holiday season. People will spend slightly more, and there are a lot of compelling products out there.” What’s more, “shopping by voice will loom very large over the holiday,” as the spike in smart speaker sales, the growth of voice-embedded products, and possible voice-only sales promotions will “get consumers thinking more” about v-commerce.