CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

Tech sales during the 2021 October through December holiday season will reach $142.5 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association, which says the projection represents “a very slight 0.5 percent increase from 2020.” A record 191.3 million U.S. adults plan to purchase technology as a holiday gift, the CTA says, adding that its 28th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report “could have important implications” for fourth quarter TV advertising. The study found that 83 percent of U.S. adults “are unaffected by or more likely to purchase tech due to the pandemic.”

As in year’s past, the most-cited gift recipients are the consumers themselves (41 percent) followed closely by spouses (37 percent). On average, respondents will spend about $541 on technology-related items, the study says.

Smartphones are once again consumers’ No. 1 most-wanted gift. Wearable devices “jumped from fifth most popular in 2020 to third this season, largely driven by increased interest in real-time health monitoring technology.” According to the survey, the top six tech products U.S. adults most want as gifts this season are:

  • Smartphones
  • Laptop/Notebook Computers
  • Wearable Devices
  • Televisions
  • Video Game Consoles, Tablets/E-Readers (tie)

“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,” CTA director of market research Lesley Rohrbaugh said in a press release. “The pandemic gave people more time and incentive to discover the many ways technology can improve their lives.”

Rohrbaugh notes that retailers are “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 CTA pegs smartphone replacement rates at “four-plus years” (as per its Mobile and Wireless 5-Year Forecast), and estimates 48 percent of holiday tech shoppers will purchase one as a gift (up from 41 percent in 2019). At the top of the smartphone buying list are 5G phones, which 62 percent of holiday smartphone buyers are expecting to purchase. Foldable phones also gained a foothold, with 29 percent citing them.

The work-at-home trend is impacting holiday tech sales, with printers topping the wish lists of 29 percent of shoppers. Desktop computers (27 percent) and monitors (25 percent) followed. Video game consoles made it onto the must-have lists of 45 percent of shoppers, up from 33 percent in 2019. In terms of content, 71 percent say they plan to make one purchase related to “gaming, video, fitness or audio streaming services.”

Home, personal health and safety products gained prominence as a result of COVID-19, with interest in smart or connected health monitoring devices registering at 29 percent, smart home security cameras clocking at 32 percent, and smart cleaning devices like UV light sanitizers garnering 24 percent.

As is tradition, CTA will present a research trends preview at January’s CES 2022. Watch for ETCentric‘s daily coverage to begin after the holiday break.