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ARLINGTON, VA.: Around 80 percent of gift-givers will wrap up an electronic gadget of some sort, the Consumer Electronics Association figures based on a September survey. The CEA says about four out of five Americans will drop an average of $222 on tech gizmos--the highest in 16 years. About half will buy one for themselves.

Gift spending is expected to increase by four percent over last year, though overall holiday spending is expected to drop. The $222 average would be an eight percent increase over last year.

“Consumers remain wary but there are signs of optimism in our holiday forecast,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA chief economist and director of research. “As the holiday approaches, consumer appetite for technology highlights the resiliency of the tech sector.”

Consumer electronics account for four of the top 10 items on grown-ups’ holiday wish list, CEA said. Computers and video games ranked second and third respectively behind clothing. Televisions and digital cameras also made the list. Blu-ray players, eReaders and netbooks, were among the most sought-after gifts this season and made it into the top 10 wanted list for the first time. The usual suspects in the top 10 include notebooks, portable MP3 players and flat-panel TVs.

Netbooks were hot, especially among teens, ranking in the top 10 CE gift wish list of that age group for the first time. Portable MP3 players, video game consoles, and digital cameras were among the most popular gifts that people planned on giving friends and family members.

“Retailers who dedicate shelf space to new technologies, like eReaders, will likely be rewarded with stronger foot traffic,” said Steve Koenig, CEA director of industry analysis.

Around 66 percent of consumers are considered likely or very likely to look for electronics in a retail store, even if they don’t plan to buy. Sixty-seven percent plan to purchase their CE gifts at a mass merchandiser while 60 percent plan on going to an electronics store.

The CEA has conducted its holiday gift-buying survey for 16 years. No sample size was provided.

(Image by Phillip Torrone)