NPD Predicts a Very Merry Christmas for CE Dealers

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The consumer tech frenzy that began in March when housebound workers and students started scrambling for home office equipment is expected to continue right through the holiday selling season, The NPD Group reports.

Fueled by COVID quarantines, consumer electronics (CE) retailers enjoyed double-digit sales gains from April through July, the market research firm reported, and NPD is now forecasting an historic 18 percent spike in fourth-quarter growth compared to a 4 percent increase last year.

See: CE Sales Soar Amid COVID Crisis

But as opposed to work-from-home essentials like notebook computers, monitors, printers and other peripherals, holiday shoppers will be looking to satisfy CE wants rather than needs with giftable items, said Ben Arnold, NPD’s executive director, industry analyst. “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-cancelling headphones,” he noted.

Aside from what consumers are buying, the pandemic has also changed how consumers are shopping for it. NPD’s sell-through data shows that 69 percent of CE sales were made online in the second quarter, up from 48 percent the year prior, while about one-quarter of online tech purchases were transacted on e-commerce sites and retrieved at the store. And the trend is expected to continue well beyond Christmas.

See: Bye-Bye Black Friday?

“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 ‘buy online, pickup curbside’ purchases to be placed in their vehicle,” said Stephen Baker, vice president, 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; [has] sped-up product upgrade cycles; and created larger installed bases that will benefit the industry moving forward.”