The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) forecasts consumer spending on tech products and services to reach $142.5 billion during the 2021 holiday shopping season (October-December), up 0.5% from the 2020 period.

The prediction was part of the association’s 28th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report, which also indicated that 83% of U.S. adults “are unaffected by or more likely to purchase tech due to the pandemic.”

The report includes findings of an online survey conducted by Engine, a collaborative research partner, among a total sample of 2008 U.S. adults polled between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13, 2021. The margin of sampling error at 95% confidence for aggregate results is +/- 2.2%.

The study showed that 44% of U.S. consumers will not let their purchases be influenced by the pandemic (an increase of 4% from last year). From this, the trade association reckoned that “consumers remain enthusiastic about tech a year after the pandemic provided many with more time to try out new products and services.”

According to CTA surveys, the report indicates approximately 191.3 million U.S. adults plan to purchase technology as a gift this holiday season, and on average, the respondents indicated they plan to spend an approximately $541 on technology gifts.

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“Like years past, the most popular recipient of technology products this holiday season is consumers themselves (41%), followed closely by one’s spouse (37%),” according to the report.

This year’s list of top wished for tech gifts include:

  1. Smartphones
  2. Laptop/Notebook Computers
  3. Wearable Devices
  4. Televisions, and
  5. Tied: Video Game Consoles and Tablets/E-Readers

“Smartphones have once again topped consumers’ list for tech gifts they most want to receive this year. Wearable devices jumped from fifth most popular in 2020 to third this season, largely driven by increased interest in real-time health monitoring technology,” CTA’s statement said.

“The surge in consumer spending on tech is being fueled by the ongoing value people find in these products and services, even amid a pandemic,” said Lesley Rohrbaugh, CTA market research director. “The pandemic gave people more time and incentive to discover the many ways technology can improve their lives – from more entertainment options, connection to friends and family, remote working tools and so much more. A notable change from recent years is retailers continuing to pull forward and capture sales earlier in the holiday season – particularly in the wake of recent and ongoing supply chain challenges many consumers are actively watching.”

The study said 48% of holiday tech shoppers expect to purchase a smartphone as a gift this year (up from 41% in 2019). The association said the average mobile phone turnover rate is now 4-plus year. Of those expecting to buy a smartphone, 62% expect to purchase a 5G model, and 29% are looking to buy a foldable one.

Where the COVID-19 pandemic has a notable impact on holiday purchasing patterns is in the space of home and personal health and safety products.

Among the health tech items topping this year’s lists are the following:

• 29% interested in smart or connected health monitoring devices, such as those used to measure body temperature, sleep patterns or blood pressure
• 32% expect to buy a smart home security camera compared to 29% last year
• 24% interested in purchasing smart cleaning solutions, such as UV light sanitizers

Popular home entertainment gifts, unsurprisingly, are led by gaming consoles.

“Interest in home video game consoles is up to 45% this holiday season from 33% in 2019. Additionally, 71% indicate they plan to purchase at least one content-related product this season, such as a gaming, video, fitness, or audio streaming services,” said CTA.

Other home-based tech items leverage the work-from-home activity that grew out of the pandemic’s sheltering mandates.

“Accessorizing or expanding in-home workspaces and computing capabilities will persist into this holiday season,” CTA’s report reveals.

The top home office gift items include:

• Printers – 29%
• Desktop computers – 27%
• Computer monitors – 25%

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By Greg Tarr

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