With coronavirus surging into the winter, so much is unknown about what the holidays will bring. One recent report showed 22% of U.S. adults canceled their Thanksgiving travel plans once the CDC issued new guidance the week prior, while 16% didn’t plan to make any changes. It’s apparent that, barring any significant interventions at the state or federal level, the holidays will continue as planned for a large segment of Americans.
Despite heightened pandemic uncertainty, more than two thirds of Americans (18+) haven’t been dissuaded from purchasing tech items as gifts this holiday season. The next generation of gaming consoles, an array of new Amazon Echo devices, and computers sporting Intel’s 11th generation Tiger Lake processors are just some of the new purchase options.
After nearly a year of closed offices, bedrock tech purchases like consoles and computers are getting more use than ever before. Heading into what could be a long, cold winter cooped up indoors, the prospect of a new game system might seem even more appealing to give kids a distraction or provide adults some escapism from an otherwise grim reality.
Video Game Consoles and Computers Top 2020 Wish Lists
New video game consoles are the most-wanted tech items this holiday season. Credit the tremendous demand for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X — along with the lower-cost Series S line. But the Nintendo Switch, which is somehow coming off its best October ever in the U.S and the second-best October sales for any console in history, can’t be counted out nearly three years after its debut.
The latest generation of consoles were immediately met with heavy demand and crashed web stores, leaving thousands of gamers empty-handed. Despite a thinner-than-usual slate of launch games, consumers haven’t been deterred from the new consoles. Of the consumers who plan on buying a game console this holiday season, just 22% consider themselves to be more price sensitive than last year. Unsurprisingly, a majority of console gift-givers find their spending habits about the same as last year. But among Americans who won’t be purchasing a new console for the holidays, nearly 40% are more price sensitive than they were before.
Computers, which were the most sought-after tech item last year, slot in right behind consoles on Americans’ wish lists. Home computers were a high-demand gift idea before the pandemic drove a majority of office employees into remote work, and they remain a consistent seller during the holiday gift season. However, the interest breakdown across incomes and genders noticeably diverges from 2019 habits.
While last year’s data suggested that Americans earning $50,000 or less were nearly twice as likely to want a new computer, that margin has eroded to just a two percentage point difference between the higher income brackets. That said, the gender gap has widened significantly: last year, women were two percentage points more likely than men to cite computers as their most wanted tech item, but now men are nearly twice as likely to favor computers.
Otherwise, there are a few significant gaps between men and women’s interest in select tech items. Men are more than three times as likely to choose a video game console as their most coveted item. While computers are nearly even in interest, women continue to outpace men’s interest in fitness trackers by more than 30%. But items that women tended to disproportionately prefer in 2019, like tablets and smartphones, are a bit more neutral this year.
For the most part, there aren’t many significant breaks from Americans’ most-wanted items and the rate at which they plan to purchase said items. If anything, there’s a slight disconnect between how many Americans intend to purchase tech gifts and the overall interest level new technology products. More than half of Americans don’t want any tech items this holiday season — nearly unchanged from last year — but more than two thirds intending to purchase.
All told, the tech holiday gift market appears to be mostly unaffected by the pandemic — and possibly outright booming with growth. Whether you credit the next generation of consoles or a heightened dependence on home technology, Americans who are less price sensitive or roughly in the same place as last year stand to treat this as a routine shopping season. And if they can’t get their hands on a PS5 before the holidays — maybe a Switch or new computer will have to do as a consolation.