Black Friday: CTA Reports Consumers Went Deal Hunting Early This Year

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ARLINGTON, Va.—The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has released new Black Friday Week-focused research showing that 66% (two in three) of U.S. adults started their holiday shopping this year prior to November, signaling people are bargain hunting earlier than usual in the face of potential supply chain disruptions. 

Just 34% (nearly one-third) of shoppers reported having not started their holiday shopping yet. The survey showed that 73% (nearly 3 in 4) are either unaffected or more likely to purchase tech this year following the pandemic.  

The CTA reported that brick-and-mortar stores remain the preferred channel for tech shopping during Thanksgiving week (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday), with 95% of consumers reporting they plan to do their shopping directly in a store. 

However, 93% plan to shop online, meaning most consumers will do a mix of online and in-person shopping this year. Overall, 95% of Thanksgiving week shoppers plan to use some type of technology to assist with their shopping. 

“To compensate for potential supply chain challenges, shoppers and retailers alike [are] pulling their shopping and deals forward in the season,” said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of market research at the Consumer Technology Association. “The increased popularity of tech shopping this Thanksgiving season demonstrates that it has become a gift of practicality. Following the pandemic, people have found more value in items that keep us on the go and connected. Non-physical content such as gifting streaming video, audio, gaming and fitness services are very popular among holiday shoppers, particularly as potential product delays affect holiday shopping this year.” 

The report also revealed the most popular overall product categories for Thanksgiving week shopping this year, with clothing (89%) narrowly edging out tech products and services (86%) as the top selection.

In terms of the type of tech consumers are favoring, 81% plan to buy physical tech products and accessories and 54% plan to purchase streaming content.  

Top planned purchases were: 

  • Clothing and accessories – 89% 
  • Technology products/accessories and streaming/download services – 86% 
  • Gift cards or gift certificates – 83% 
  • Personal care or beauty products – 78%  
  • Toys – 69% 
  • Home décor or furnishings – 62% 
  • Digital media including physical video games and DVDs – 60% 
  • Physical media including books – 59%  
  • Jewelry – 56% 
  • Appliances – 45% 

The CTA recently released a holiday shopping trends report (opens in new tab) showing spending on tech products and services during the 2021 holiday season (October-December) is projected to reach $142.5 billion – a 0.5% increase from 2020. 

This report presents the findings of an online survey conducted by Engine, a collaborative research partner, among a total sample of 2024 U.S. adults between October 29 and 31, 2021. After data collection was completed, the dataset was weighted by six variables to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population age 18 and older: age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of sampling error at 95% confidence for aggregate results is +/- 2.18%. Sampling error is larger for subgroups of the data.  

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.