Attention holiday shoppers, you might want to get an early start on your tech-gift purchases if the results of the new Consumer Technology Association’s holiday shoppers survey are accurate.

A record 199 million U.S. adults plan to purchase tech items this holiday season, with headphones/earbuds, streaming/download services, mobile device cases, smartphones and video game consoles topping intended gift purchase lists, the CTA’s 29th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report finds.

The number is up 4% from 191 million predicted last year, when laptops, wearables, TVs, tablets and video game consoles topped U.S. consumers’ wish lists.

The Association further forecasts the 78% of Americans who intend to purchase tech products during the holiday shopping season (October-December) will spend $145 billion on those gifts, down 5.9% from 2021.

Of that amount, $41.8 billion will go toward software and services (up 3.5%) while electronics hardware spending will decline 9.2% to $103.2 billion.

The CTA’s surveys show consumers plan to spend an average $560 on tech products this season (the most since the start of the pandemic), up from expectations for $541 last year.

About 184 million U.S. adults plan to spend either more or about the same on gifts compared to last year at this time, while 71.4 million plan to spend less, with inflation the most common reason cited for the latter.

But CTA cautioned that the indications of higher spending expectations might be “overly optimistic” due the common sentiment that prices for everything will be higher this year, based on the high inflationary prices for other goods, when, in fact, many consumer technology devices are actually seeing or going to see price declines this fourth quarter.

The CTA explained that retailers will be offering deep discounts in Q4 to clear inventory build-ups, with “the burden of higher inflation on consumer finances and cooling economic conditions are also expected to dampen consumer spending.”

As in past years, the most popular recipients of technology product spending this holiday season will be consumers themselves (43%), followed closely by one’s spouse (36%), other adults (25%), children aged 12-17 (20%), parents (18%), children 6-11 (16%) and children under 6 (12%).

As an early warning, this year, 61% of shoppers expect to start shopping for tech gifts in November and December, and as in past years about 83% will buy most of their gifts in November or December, with late November (including Black Friday and Cyber Monday) being the most popular time to do so (once again, 37%).

As to where shoppers plan to make their purchases, respondents were evenly split between brick-&-mortar stores and online at 85% apiece. Some 44% of shoppers cited the ability to social distance from others as “a key factor” in the plans, down 15 percentage points from last year. Product pricing (82%) and the ease of making a purchase (77%) were the two factors cited most often in shopping decisions.

Roughly half of consumers planning to shop in stores expect to learn about sales and discounts from TV ads and internet searches this holiday season, followed by friends and family, in-store signage and newspapers.

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Online shoppers this year expect to find the best deals using search engines, email advertisements, retailer websites, social media, mobile device apps, and text notifications.

As for the most popular gifts this year, earphones once again ranked first (61%) at the top of consumers’ lists for tech gifts they plan to give followed by streaming/download service (59%), mobile device case (54%), smartphone (50%) and video game console (46%). Television sets ranked 9th (43%) down from 8th in 2021.

Smartphones have once again topped consumers’ list for tech gifts they most want to receive this year. Wearable devices returned in second place, followed by laptop/notebook PCs third, televisions fourth, and table/E-readers fifth.

Content-related gifts are another big consideration for gift giving this year. The CTA said 192 million U.S. adults are planning to purchase at least one such gift in 2022, including streaming movies/services (47%), video game discs (40%), game streaming (37%), audio streaming (36%), and digital books (31%). In addition older content products including CDs (31%), Blu-ray Discs (28%) and vinyl records (25%) are maintaining or building in popularity with gift givers.

Smartphone interest during this holiday season is expected to continue to be strong, with 50% of holiday tech shoppers expecting to purchase one as a gift (up from 48% in 2021). This year almost a third (30%) of smartphone gift buyers will purchase foldable or flip phones.

As for televisions, 43% of respondents said they were considering such a gift purchase, and of those 70% are considering a set under 60-inches, 52% are considering a 60-69 inch model, and 43% are considering one 70-inches or larger.

DVD or Blu-ray players were cited by 24% of respondents, Ultra HD Blu-ray players were cited by 21%, home theater projectors were cited by 20% and an indoor/outdoor TV antenna was cited by 19% of respondents, down from 21% last year.

Interest in home video game consoles is up to 46% this holiday season from 45% in 2021.

Smart home products was another popular gift category, with 40% ranked first with potential purchasers at 40%, followed by smart door bells (38%), smart light bulbs (35%), smart home security cameras (33%) and robotic vacuums (29%).

The report presents the findings of an online survey conducted by Big Village, a collaborative research partner, among a total sample of 2008 U.S. adults
between September 8 and 11, 2022. The margin of sampling error at 95% confidence for aggregate results is +/- 2.2%.

CES 2023 (Jan. 5-8, 2023) will feature a research trends preview presented by CTA’s research team in Las Vegas on January 3rd.

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By Greg Tarr

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