TVs Top Holiday Wish Lists…Again

As we head into the holiday season, TVs are once again the most-wanted tech gift among American adults who are expected to spend a record $96 billion on tech purchases through the end of the year, according to new research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The 25th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns Study reveals that 164 million American adults (66%) plan to purchase a tech product as a gift this year, with record amounts going to smart products, including speakers, smart-home devices, and smartwatches.

“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,” said Ben Arnold, CTA’s senior director of innovation and trends. “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 a very strong holiday season with sales expected to hit 22 million units, a 44% increase over 2017. New for 2018 is the emergence of smart speakers with displays — 6% of overall shoppers plan to purchase a smart speaker with a screen and 12 percent plan to purchase one without a screen.

In the audio category, wireless earbuds are becoming a hot gift item, with 5.3 million units expected to sell this holiday season — a 60% increase over 2017. Some 40% of U.S. adults planning to purchase headphones or earbuds as gifts this season say they’re likely to buy wireless earbuds.

Continuing the trend of bigger-ticket devices topping holiday wish lists, TVs grabbed the number one spot, followed by laptops, smartphones and tablets (tied), smartwatches, and desktop computers and any type of camera (tied).

CTA also said more people than ever before will use a voice-enabled virtual assistant such as a smart speaker to research and buy gifts during the 2018 holiday season. Almost a quarter of survey respondents say they plan to research products using a digital assistant and 16 percent plan to make a purchase using voice technology.

“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,” noted Lesley Rohrbaugh, CTA’s director of market research. "Technology is playing the biggest role in not only what we buy as gifts, but how.”