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Technology Tops Holiday Gift List

The push to think about the Christmas holiday seems to come earlier and earlier every year. I know it’s only October, but it’s hard to miss the holiday sections that are starting to appear in many of the brick-and-mortar stores.

So I’m going to jump on the holiday bandwagon and share insight from the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns Study.

In a nutshell, the study revealed that 68% of shoppers, or roughly 170 million people, plan to buy technology gifts like drones, virtual reality, and wearables this holiday season. That’s a 6% jump over last year.

By the time the 2016 holiday season is done, spending on technology will reach $36 billion.

“The 2016 holiday season looks to be the biggest on record for the tech sector thanks to fresh and innovative products on the market such as wearable tech, VR headsets, drones, and digital assistant devices,” says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist, CTA. “Our research also finds that most Americans are now using tech devices to help them research and buy tech gifts, a key driver of tech spending this holiday.”

The study also found that 57% of consumers are likely to shop for technology online this year, which is a 2% increase over last year. However, physical stores are still the main source for tech gift purchases, with 74% of consumers likely to buy from a brick-and-mortar establishment. 

So what’s the hottest tech gift this year? According to CTA, headphones will be the most popular, which is driven in part by an industry-wide move toward wireless audio devices. 

What’s on your wish list? The study says the gifts consumers want most are laptops, TVs, smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles.  

Emerging technology is also on a lot of lists this year as gift-giving ideas. Some of the most popular items include:

  1. Wearables like smart watches and fitness activity trackers.
  2. Smart home devices, including smart thermostats and digital assistant devices.
  3. Connected or digital toys.
  4. Virtual reality headsets with 700,000 projected to be sold.
  5. Drones with sales estimated at about 1.2 million devices, which is an increase of 112% over 2015.

Will the Presidential election delay your holiday spirit? 

While the 2016 holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a record-breaker in terms of tech purchases, CTA says there is still angst among some consumers about spending. 

Consumers who plan to cut back this season list not having the money (60%), increased cost of living (57%), living on a fixed income (54%), and concerns about the presidential election (38%) as reasons why.
 
“The holiday shopping season has been steadily creeping earlier and earlier into the year, but we expect to see a delay in the barrage of holiday promotions this year until after the presidential election,” says DuBravac. “Given uncertainty among voters, this election will impact not only when consumers begin to shop but, potentially, how much they spend.”

How will you approach this holiday season? Do you plan to delay purchases this season? Is technology at the top of your wish list this year or part of your gift-giving ideas?

Send me your thoughts at laurie.bedord@meredith.com.

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