The 25th annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns Study by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) reports projections of a record-setting US$96.1 billion in revenue in the U.S. for the 2018 holiday season, representing a 3.4% year-over-year increase.
The study estimates that 164 million U.S. adults (66%) plan to purchase a tech product as a gift this year, which is on par with 2017. Consumers will spend a record amount on key categories this season, CTA expects, such as smart speakers, smart home devices, smartwatches, and more.
"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," says 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."
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, and CTA says 6% of overall shoppers plan to purchase a smart speaker with a screen and 12% plan to purchase a smart speaker without a screen.
Fueled by the popularity of voice technology, 36% of respondents plan to purchase a smart home product in 2018, including smart speakers, security cameras, smart lightbulbs, and video door bells.
Jumping up from last year, nearly one in five of U.S. adults plan to buy a smartwatch this year. CTA expects over seven million smartwatches will sell this holiday season, a 26% increase.
Wireless earbuds are now a key holiday tech gift, with 5.3 million units expected to sell, a 60% increase over 2017. Forty per cent of the U.S. adults planning to purchase a gift within the headphones/earbuds category say they're likely to buy wireless earbuds this season.
With expected sales of 1.5 million units this holiday season (up 8% over 2017), drones continue to be a popular tech gift.
Once again, televisions are consumers' most wanted tech gift, continuing the trend of bigger-ticket hub devices topping wish lists. Rounding out the top five are laptops, smartphones and tablets are tied for third, smartwatches, and desktop computers and cameras (tied for fifth.)
It's worth noting that 2017 marked the first time voice became the fourth sales channel to join brick-and-mortar stores, online, and mobile methods of shopping. In 2018, almost a quarter of respondents plan to research products and sales via a digital assistant, and 16% plan to make a purchase using voice technology.
In addition to over half of Americans planning to shop online for tech this holiday season (52%) and 77% planning to shop in brick-and-mortar locations, retail channels will diversify and multiply in 2018. The number of shoppers who plan to shop using mobile devices will rise to 58%, 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.
More than a quarter (27%) of respondents plan to start their holiday shopping in October, while 83% plan to wait until November and December, in large part thanks to the offer of two and same-day shipping for online purchases.
"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," says Lesley Rohrbaugh, Director of Market Research, CTA. "Technology is playing the biggest role in not only what we buy as gifts, but how."
CTA's 25th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns Study was designed and formulated by CTA Market Research. CTA fielded the survey in September 2018 using a landline and mobile phone sample of 1,007 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older.