NPD Expects Historic Holiday for U.S. Consumer Technology Sales With 18% Growth in Q4 2020

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Sales have been strong since March with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders fueling technology needs

“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.

In a year where technology has played an even more crucial role in keeping people connected, it may not be surprising that monthly technology sales have been up year over year since March, when COVID-19 restrictions began in the U.S. In the months that followed, technology sales experienced double-digit year-over-year growth[1] and this momentum is expected to continue. In fact, according to NPD’s Future of Tech report[2], Q4 2020 will see historic growth of 18% compared to Q4 2019, which saw 4% growth compared to Q4 2018.

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-cancelling headphones,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group.

But while the tech gear on consumers Q4 shopping lists may not be much different than the typical holiday season, the way they shop for those products may differ due to social distancing requirements. 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, BOPUS (buy online and pick up in store) purchases accounted for approximately a quarter of online technology 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 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, sped-up product upgrade cycles and created larger installed bases that will benefit the industry moving forward.”

[1] The NPD Group, U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Dollar sales, April- July 2020 vs. April- July 2019.
[2] Based on forecasted sales of technology products captured in The NPD Group Retail Tracking Service point-of-sale data, Streaming Audio Speakers Total Market report, and Smartwatch Total Market report. This does not include mobile phones.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help our clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2,000 companies worldwide rely on us to help them measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. We have offices in 27 cities worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys, video games, and watches. For more information, visit npd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup and @npdtech.

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Megan Scott
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