See Totals & Category Breakdowns
On the first day of the virtual CES 2021 earlier this month, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) released their latest forecast for the total retail sales of technology in the United States. After a record year in 2020, the tech industry association says, collective retail sales are forecast to increase a robust 4.3% for a total of $461 billion in 2021.
See more on the CTA 2021 tech sales forecast…
As a regular matter of course, the CTA releases a report containing updated estimates of total tech sales broken down by category every six months. The numbers released during CES 2021 come from their latest version of that report.
The trade association says that because of COVID, “millions of Americans remain home and rely on tech to stay entertained, connected and healthy during the pandemic.” Seeing no abatement ahead – at least in the near-term – the CTA said that key drivers of growth this year will come from:
- Streaming services
- 5G connectivity
- Digital health devices
The pandemic has pushed the fast-forward button on tech adoption – from our homes to our work to our doctor’s offices. While the road to a full economic recovery is long and intertwined with a complex vaccine rollout, the tech industry’s ability to meet the moment during this crisis has been critical. As we kick off a new year with an all-digital CES 2021, I look forward to seeing the global tech community come together to share its vision for a reimagined future.”Gary Shapiro, CTA President and CEO at the start of the CES 2021 virtual event
In their announcement, the association gave some examples of their forecasts for select categories in the report – a report which tracks more than 300 tech product categories in total. Below are some of those categories they shared.
Software and Streaming Services
The CTA says this category is projected to reach an impressive $112 billion in 2021. That is an 11% improvement over 2020, and it is a record level for the category. And this follows on the heels of a 30% growth in streaming in 2020 vs 2019.
In further breaking down this important category, we learned estimates from the CTA on the following subcategories:
- Software & Streaming Subcategory Performance
- Video: The video segment is expected to hit $41 billion in 2021, a 15% increase over 2020 as we recognize that homes move into multiple subscriptions due to “exclusive content and cord-cutting”
- Audio: The audio segment – encompassing music, audio books and podcasts and the services that feed them (Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc) – will hit $10 billion in total revenues the CTA forecasts. This is 19% over 2020
- Gaming: The pandemic has fueled an incredible surge in gaming, both to help wile away newly idled hours and to retain social engagement. The association’s forecast sees this category growing to an impressive $47 billion…another 8% over the explosion in 2020
The video game industry always shows strong growth when the major players update gaming consoles, which drives both hardware and software sales. This year is no exception with both Microsoft and Sony launching new consoles. The CTA projects that hardware sales will increase 3% to a total of 18 million units (home and portable units) for $6 billion in revenue.
A crucial category in the video-centric U.S., the television segment benefitted from people stuck at home due to the pandemic. Many of them, the CTA says, chose to use their discretionary dollars to upgrade their televisions, resulting in a record year (in terms of unit shipments) for the category in 2020.
The CTA is expecting the category to lose a little of that wind at their back with a forecast of an 8% contraction to 43 million units in 2021. However, because people have been upgrading to larger, better technology units, revenues will only decline 1% to $22 billion.
This latest forecast showed some bright spots of continued growth in the category, however, including units over 70-inches (up 6% in 2021 to 3.3 million units) and 8K Ultra High-Definition models (up 300% to 1.7 million units).
- Smartphones: Units to increase 4% to 161 million. Dollars to increase 5% to $73 billion. Category showed slight decline in 2020. BRIGHT SPOT – 298% growth in 5G smartphones shipments (to 67 million) and 218% growth in revenues (to $39 billion). Keep in mind this is a new category.
- Laptops: Thanks to pandemic forced work-from-home and learn-from-home scenarios, 2020 was a record year for the category – both enterprise and consumer. In 2021, the CTA forecasts 1% increase in units (to 69 million units) and 2% drop in revenues (to $38 billion).
- Wireless Audio: (Really wireless earbuds and headphones) The CTA’s forecast for 2021 is a 34% increase in units (to 91 million units) and a 16% increase in revenue (to $9.3 billion). The CTA notes that 2020 was the first year that wireless earbuds and headphones exceeded wired versions.
- DIY Smart Home Products: Forecast to increase 9% in units (to 99 million units) and 3% in revenue (to $15 billion). Key products include smart displays, smart doorbells, and smart appliances.
- Connected Health: As you might suspect, the pandemic has added a strong push in this still nascent category as people seek to monitor their health in the age of COVID-19. For 2021, the CTA projects that health monitoring devices will grow 35% in units (to 14 million) and 34% in revenue (to $845 million). Health & fitness products (primarily smart watches and fitness activity trackers) will see units up 13% (to 69 million) and revenues up 6% (to $9 billion).
- Electric Bikes: In this new category (first time projected) the CTA says the category will benefit from consumers still skeptical of mass transit in the age of COVID. They forecast a 60% growth in units (to 1.6 million) and a 44% growth in revenue (to $2.6 billion).
Get More Details Here…
This data all comes from the CTA’s report U.S. Consumer Technology One-Year Industry Forecast which is published twice per year (January, July). The fairly comprehensive report offers both a historical report of category performance, as well as a forecast of future performance which can be very helpful in business planning.
The association offers this report free to CTA members and sells it for $2,000 to all others. For more info, follow this link…
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