In a year where consumer electronics and home technology have played a key role for house-bound families due to the coronavirus pandemic, new data from The NPD Group suggests fourth-quarter CE sales will increase 18% compared with the same period in 2019.
The second quarter of 2020 saw healthy gains in categories associated with learning and working from home, as consumers across the U.S. outfitted their home offices with the equipment needed to maintain productivity. Gains in home entertainment categories were notable as well, as consumers looked for ways to fill time while at home for an extended period. High growth categories included: notebook computers (+45%), tablets (37%), monitors (+84%), printers (+59%), and keyboards and mice (62%).
“Sales of items we need to get through the school or workday took priority in the first half of this year, but as we head into Q4 and the holidays we expect many of these ‘needs’ will have been satisfied and consumers will begin to purchase items they consider to be ‘wants’ or gifts for the holiday season, such as TVs and noise-canceling headphones,” Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst, for The NPD Group, said in a statement.
Arnold said that while the typical Q4 shopping list won’t differ much from previous years, how consumers buy will, due to ongoing concerns regarding social distancing. According to NPD Checkout data, in Q2 e-commerce represented 69% of consumer technology sales, up from 48% during the same time last year, and that number is expected to remain above 60% moving forward. Additionally, buying online and picking up in-store accounted for about 25% of online tech sales in Q2, as consumers shifted to new ways of purchasing accelerated by COVID-19.
“Black Friday lines won’t disappear, but we expect lines of consumers waiting for store openings will be replaced by long queues of cars eagerly waiting for [online] purchases to be placed in their vehicle,” said Stephen Baker, VP, industry advisor for The NPD Group. “As we head into Q4 and into 2021, we’re forecasting technology sales will remain strong as the pandemic has renewed recognition of the critical value of technology in the modern lifestyle, sped-up product upgrade cycles and created larger installed bases that will benefit the industry moving forward.”