It’s going to be an electronics Holiday Season if forecasts by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) prove correct.

That means a 4K big-screen might be waiting for you near the tree, menorah, or the Kwanzaa or secular humanist dinner table this year.

The technology trade association (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association), said its consumer tracking studies show the industry reaching a record $96.1 billion in revenue in the United States this year, representing a 3.4% increase over 2017.

As has become customary over the years, televisions, especially the 4K big-screen variety, top the wish lists of U.S. consumers. This category, in particular, is famous year after year for inciting door buster madness on retail sales floors during the Black Friday period.

The Association’s 25th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns study shows 164 million U.S. adults (66%) plan to purchase a tech product as a gift this year, which is about equal to last year, but “consumers will spend a record amount on key categories such as smart speakers, smart home devices, smartwatches” and other electronic items, including smart TVs.

The holiday spending period traditionally covers the month of October through December.

This year’s study shows that among bigger ticket purchases, the Top Five Most Wanted Tech Gifts on the minds of U.S. consumers this year include the following categories:

1. TVs
2. Laptops
3. Smartphones and Tablets (tied)
4. Smartwatches
5. Desktop computers and Cameras (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 – smartwatches and wireless earbuds.”

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Among newer “Emerging Tech” items, which the CTA likes to watch closely, smart speakers, smart home devices and smartwatches top the list.

CTA projects smart speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, will have another strong holiday season, selling an expected 22 million units (up 44 percent over 2017).

“New for 2018 is the emergence of smart speakers with displays – 6% of overall shoppers plan to purchase a smart speaker with a screen and 12 percent plan to purchase a smart speaker without a screen,” the CTA stated in releasing its findings.

Along related lines, the CTA said swelling popularity of voice technology has influenced 36% of respondents planning to purchase a smart home product in 2018. These include: smart speakers, security cameras, smart light bulbs and video door bells.

Also moving up rapidly are smartwatches, leading the CTA to estimate that “nearly one in five U.S. adults plan to buy a smartwatch this year.”

The Association expects more than 7 million smartwatches will sell over the holidays, representing a 26% jump from the prior year.

Wireless earbuds are also popular gift items on holiday shopping lists. The CTA said newer wireless units will account for 5.3 million sales this season, which is up 60% over 2017. Some 40% U.S. adults plan to purchase a gift within the headphones/earbuds category this year, the CTA said.

The CTA also found drones to be popular with an expected 1.5 million unit sales this holiday season (up 8% over 2017).

As for where consumers will shop for these gifts, this year, the CTA said the year-old “voice-powered” sales channel will again join brick-and-mortar, online and mobile as methods of holiday shopping via e-commerce. The CTA said more than half (52%) of all Americans are planning to shop online for tech this holiday season.

The CTA study shows that in 2018, “almost a quarter of respondents plan to research products and sales via a digital assistant and 16 percent plan to make a purchase using voice technology.”

Retail channels will diversify and multiply in 2018, the CTA said, as the number of shoppers who plan to shop using mobile devices will rise to 58 percent – surpassing online for the second year in a row. Further, about 33% plan to take advantage of same-day delivery, 31% in-home delivery (such as Amazon Key or Walmart Delivery), and 9% plan to use in-app features like camera search.

Good ole fashioned brick-and-more business will be transacted by 77% of Americans, the CTA believes

Shoppers will also take more time to complete their purchases this year. CTA said that just as Black Friday was pulled forward into Thanksgiving Day and extended to Cyber Monday, the full holiday shopping season is getting longer.

This is being seen in “retailer-specific holidays” in July, and events such as Singles Day and heavy promotions earlier in the season. The study found 27 percent of respondents plan to “start their holiday shopping in October or earlier, while 83 percent of respondents don’t plan to purchase their gifts until November or December – likely due to the growing popularity of two- and same-day shipping programs.”

“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.”

The CTA said it conducted this year’s survey in September 2018 using a landline and mobile phone sample of 1,007 U.S. adults (18+). The full report is available for purchase (no cost for CTA members) and is available at


By Greg Tarr


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