Holidays Will Be Kind To Devices, Gadgets

Collage-Phone-Laptop-Tablets-A2It looks to be a green Christmas for consumer electronics makers and sellers, with U.S. consumers planning to spend 33% more on devices and gadgets than they spent last holiday season. 

According to a survey of 2,500 U.S. households, average spending on consumer electronics will be $1,058 this year -- up from $793 spent last year, according to Parks Associates. Among the respondents, nearly two-thirds (63%) planned to make a CE purchase this holiday season, almost double the percentage that said they planned to make them last year (37%). The hottest items: tablets and smartphones. 

“It’s certainly an encouraging sign that you’ve got so many people planning to buy consumer electronics,” John Barrett, director, consumer analytics at Parks Associates, tells Marketing Daily. “Overall, the consumer confidence index isn’t so robust. But in the CE space, things are picking up.” 

Among all consumers, 26% said they intend to spend more on electronics -- the highest rate since 2008, Barrett says. And for the first time, more U.S. households plan to purchase a tablet than a laptop, netbook or Ultrabook computer, he says. It’s still too early to call the demise of the desktop computer, Barrett says, but the early signs point to consumer attraction of the portability of laptops and tablets as their main computing devices.

“There are early indications that we’re starting to see a shift to where instead of a household having a combination of desktops and laptops, we’re transitioning to a combination of laptops and tablets,” Barrett says. “There are some indications that desktops are [being viewed as] more expendable, and that a tablet is a nice way to complement a laptop computer.”

In addition, consumers are showing stronger intentions to purchase their devices online (47% of tablet shoppers said they’d purchase online, compared with 35% last year). While this may mean increased showrooming and price comparisons in stores, consumers are also showing a preference for the online storefronts of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. 

“There’s certainly a showrooming phenomenon going on,” Barrett says. “But the retail chains still play an important role. I think [their role] may be shifting though, as more of the buying goes online. Is the store just a distribution point, or is it a showroom?  And yes -- you can pick up [a product there], but it serves a more interactive and informative role. It will be interesting to see how that phenomenon plays out.”

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