CEA: More Americans Plan to Purchase Tech Amid Record-Setting Holiday Season

New research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® shows that 65 percent of all Americans, roughly 160 million people, are planning to buy tech gifts this holiday season, a steady increase over last year. According to the 22nd Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, emerging technologies continue to drive growth in the tech industry, with one in three holiday shoppers (33 percent) looking to purchase an emerging tech product- such as smart home devices, wearable activity trackers and drones- during the 2015 holiday season.

According to CEA’s holiday retail outlook, overall spending this holiday season is expected to increase 3.4 percent to reach $788.5 billion. Further, spending on tech during the holiday season is expected to reach nearly $34.2 billion, a growth of 2.3 percent.

“CEA’s 2015 holiday forecast suggests the holiday shopping season that lies before us will be the biggest on record,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s chief economist and senior director of research. “Coupled with general holiday buying, Americans are showing a strong propensity for tech this holiday season.”

Top Holiday Tech Wish List

According to the new CEA study, the tech products that U.S. consumers most want to receive as a gift this holiday season are:

  1. TVs
  2. Tablets
  3. Smartphones
  4. Notebook/laptop computers
  5. Videogame consoles

Top Tech Gifts to Give

CEA expects headphones and earbuds (28 percent and 27 percent of consumers, respectively) to be the most popular tech given during the 2015 holiday season. Tablets (26 percent) will also be popular this year, followed by portable Bluetooth speakers (25 percent), smartphones (24 percent) and notebook/laptop computers (25 percent).

More than half of shoppers (58 percent) plan to purchase a tech accessory this season. Videogame accessories will see one of the largest increases in popularity with one in five shoppers (23 percent) likely to purchase – a seven percentage point increase from last year (16 percent). Three new accessories categories tracked this year include digital toys or videogame figurines (21 percent), selfie-sticks (nine percent), and action camera accessories (seven percent).

More and more consumers – 33 percent – will opt to purchase a new, emerging technology product this holiday season – the category’s highest total ever. The most popular 2015 holiday gifts among emerging tech will be smart home devices (15 percent), wearable fitness activity trackers (12 percent), smart watches (12 percent), action cameras (12 percent) and drones (seven percent).

“Whether Americans want the latest upgrade of their favorite tech device or to try out the newest emerging tech on the market, it’s apparent that consumer enthusiasm for tech will be substantial this holiday shopping season,” says DuBravac.

Earlier and Earlier Holiday Shopping

CEA’s study says more consumers plan to shop later in the season, consistent with a belief that the best deals are at or after Black Friday. More consumers (71 percent, a 10 percentage point increase from 2014) plan to wait until November or December to start their holiday shopping, while 24 percent (down from 31 percent in 2014) indicate they anticipate shopping in October or earlier. Women (31 percent) are much more likely than men (17 percent) to start their holiday shopping in October or earlier.

Evolving Holiday Retail Channels

CEA’s study also found more than half (55 percent) of consumers are likely to shop for tech online this year. However, traditional retail channels remain essential sources of tech gift purchases, with 77 percent of consumers – on par with the past four years – likely to purchase from a brick-and-mortar location. Households with children are significantly more likely to shop online (69 percent) than households without children (56 percent).

Mobile not just for Millennials

The mobile channel continues to grow in importance each holiday season. More than two-thirds of consumers who plan to spend money on consumer tech, likely using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to help them shop.

Mobile is now starting to connect with audiences of all different ages. In 2014, 69 percent of 35-54-year-olds planned to use a mobile device to help with holiday purchases. This year, that number rose to 74 percent, approaching the 79 percent of millennials who plan to use a smartphone to shop.

“Holiday shopping patterns are evolving significantly,” said Steve Koenig, senior director, market research, CEA. “More consumers outside of the traditional early adopter and millennial generation are using tech to buy tech. They’re relying heavily on online shopping and mobile devices in an effort to have a more informed and convenient holiday shopping experience.”

CEA Holiday Research

To keep up to date with all of CEA’s holiday research throughout the season, visit CEA will also release a mid-season holiday update on Nov. 10 at the Innovate! conference and its annual Post Black Friday Survey results following the Thanksgiving shopping weekend on Nov. 29.

The 22nd Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer electronics industry. Please cite any information to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The complete report is available free to CEA member companies Non-members may purchase the report in the CEA Store.