Consumer Electronics Still Must-Have Holiday Gifts in Tough Economy

October 21, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Free-Standing Inserts & Circulars | Retail & E-Commerce | Technology | Television | Videogames | Youth & Gen X

Consumer electronics products continue to top the holiday wish lists of adults and teens, resulting in 3.5% projected growth in Q4 industry shipments over last year, according to new research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), reports Retailer Daily.

Among the key findings:


  • Consumer electronics comprise four of the top 10 items on adults’ holiday gift wish lists, with computers coming in second peace and happiness. Televisions, video game systems and cell phones also made the top 10.
  • Nearly 80% of adults expressed interest in receiving a consumer electronics product as a gift this holiday season, an increase of four points from last year.
  • Meanwhile, 84% of teens want to receive a CE product this year, up 8% from 2007. The most popular CE products for teens this holiday are computers, videogame consoles, portable mp3 players and cell phones.


“There remains a robust desire for consumer electronics and this category continues to be the bright light during these dark economic times,” said Tim Herbert, CEA’s senior director of market research. “CE devices have become integrated into the everyday lives of consumers. No matter what your current economic situation, you can find a CE product to fit any holiday budget.”

CE Spending

Consumers plan to spend, on average, $1,437 this holiday season – on everything from gifts to food to decorations. That number is down nearly $200 from last year as consumers cite cost-of-living increases and economic concerns as reasons for cutting back.


While consumers are planning to spend less this holiday season, they’re actually preparing to spend more on consumer electronics: 28% of the total holiday budget is being allocated for CE purchases, an increase of 6% from last year’s holiday season.

Although this year’s projected fourth quarter growth is down from last year, discretionary spending on consumer electronics is at an all-time high,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s economist.

“Certainly with the recession in the early 1990’s and the burst of the dot-com bubble, consumers spent less of their discretionary income on consumer electronics,” DuBravac said. “However, there has been a change in sentiment as consumers now view CE as a necessity rather than a luxury.”


The study also tracked the gifts that consumers are planning on giving their friends and family this holiday season:


  • Videogame systems topped the list, followed by digital cameras, portable mp3 players and DVD players.
  • Videogames also top the “wow factor” list as consumers feel it will make a great gift. High-definition TVs come in a close second.

“It’s no surprise these CE products are topping everyone’s gift giving list,” said Herbert. “Consumers continue to seek out portable and digital devices that allow them to take their content on the go and share it across multiple platforms.”

As the crisis on Wall Street affects spending this holiday season, consumers and retailers alike will have to be more creative:

  • Two-thirds of consumers say they’ll use coupons and spend more time shopping around for bargains.
  • Half also plan on using cash this holiday, instead of putting purchases on their credit card. However, four in ten plan on using some form of credit.

“Consumers may have more trouble being approved for a credit card this holiday,” according to DuBravac. “Four in ten tech insiders believe significantly more consumers will be turned down for credit during the fourth quarter.”


Retailers should also make the most out of their advertising dollars, the study found: Half of consumers say coupons and circulars in the Sunday paper are useful, while 45% say television commercials are effective.

About the study: The 15th Annual CE Holiday Purchase Pattern Study was conducted between September 25 and September 28, 2008. It was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research.


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