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Early holiday sales have mixed signals for tech products

holiday shoppers in mall
Holiday tech consumers are more focused on the value of their purchase than just getting the lowest price.

Holiday shoppers are looking for more than low prices when it comes to buying tech products.

Sales of consumer technology products were generally lackluster over Black Friday Week and Cyber Week when compared to last year, in line with broader discretionary general merchandise spending trends, according to a report by Circana.

Sales declined during both of the two big holiday promotion weeks. But Black Friday Week performed better with a 3% year-over-year decline in unit sales, and 4% decline in dollar sales. This was an improvement over the prior four weeks, and included some category-specific areas of growth.

The Black Friday shopping week proved to be more popular with consumers seeking value when making some of their bigger ticket tech purchases. Specifically, unit sales of televisions grew 3% compared to last year’s Black Friday Week.

“This year’s holiday tech consumers are more focused on the value of their purchase than just getting the lowest price,” said Paul Gagnon, consumer technology advisor for Circana. “Black Friday shoppers had a more leisurely shopping experience this year, with ample inventory to choose from as they took advantage of bargains on big screen TVs, and opted for higher priced computer purchases.”

The average selling prices of tech products were a mixed bag during the two traditionally peak holiday shopping weeks, consisting of promotional pricing activity as well as purchase shifts to some higher-priced products. Over Cyber Week, the overall average prices on tech purchases were only down slightly compared to last year, but were actually higher in some key categories like computers and audio. 

Compared to last year, October prices were lower than those seen so far during the core holiday shopping period. Beyond TVs and computers, higher end camcorders and detachable lens cameras also got attention from consumers over Black Friday Week, driving the average selling price of the overall camera category up 20% compared to last year.

There is a different mix of categories vying for a slice of the holiday budget this year, including the latest game consoles and new VR headsets, along with entry-priced streaming sticks and security cameras and other items, noted Circana.

“Consumers are starting to emerge from their pandemic splurges, and looking for products that they feel are worth spending on in the current economic environment,” said Ben Arnold, electronics industry analyst, Circana. “The still challenged but improving trends, combined with a lack of deeper discounts in recent weeks and fewer concerns over inventory levels than in the past, signal a likelihood of tech consumers shifting their shopping to later in the season.”

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