Consumers are ready to spend again

It wouldn’t be Christmas (or Hanukah or Thanksgiving or Black Friday) without Stephen Baker’s lucky 13 pre-holiday predictions, as can only be foretold by The NPD Group’s resident tech industry analyst and VP. So sit back, take notes and hope Santa will be kind.

1. Industry revenue has turned the corner: 2017 will see the best holiday performance in years, as hot new categories and a stable market deliver positive revenue growth in consumer electronics.

2. Thanksgiving week is a marathon, not a sprint: Consumers are ready to buy all week long. Once again, promotions, products and marketing all coalesce around a full week of events, not just Black Friday.

3. Sell up, not down: Consumers are hungry to spend on products above entry-level. Better products, better features and a better experience will beat out lowest price as characteristics for the ideal holiday gift.

4. TVs remain the über holiday category: Accounting for over 20 percent of holiday revenue, it’s hard to deliver a successful holiday season without an aggressive promotional TV marketplace.

5. Much bigger is much better: With the days of small screens behind us, bigger and bigger TVs (especially 55-inch-plus) continue to win consumer interest and dollars.

6. Tablets resurface on holiday wish lists: Improved pricing, products and segmentation will drive sales volumes of tweener-size screens this holiday.

7. Smartphone sales stay the course: Flat is the new up.

8. Don’t forget accessories: Holiday is about the smartphone ecosystem, not just the device. Stable smartphone volumes lead to strong sales in high-traffic ecosystem products like cases, power and audio.

9. Turn up the volume: Audio has re-emerged as a core device feature making up more than 10 percent of holiday sales.

10. Headphone sales are booming: New features, new use cases and a penchant for cool and for quality make headphones the fourth-largest holiday revenue category.

11. Let the customer’s voice be heard: Voice-controlled speakers will explode as installed base and platform considerations offset revenue and profit requirements.

12. Keen on smart-home sales: Smart-home product sales will soar, but don’t let expectations get ahead of reality. With just 15 percent of U.S. Internet households owning a smart-home device, there’s a long runway of growth ahead. Smart home appears on the cusp of becoming a very strong holiday category.

13. Snow day activities: PC gaming will be the hottest consumer segment in the PC and accessories market this holiday, with volumes up in double digits.

Baker’s Bonus Prediction: Holiday shopping doesn’t end on Dec. 25, as the post-holiday opportunity is growing.

NPD has posted a host of holiday predictions across multiple industries.

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