U.S. Households Spending Down on Consumer Electronics

According to a study released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the average U.S. household spent $1,179 on consumer electronics (CE) products in the past 12 months, $201 less than the year before. CEA’s “13th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study,” conducted from January 27–31, 2011, found the average adult spent $652 on CE products in the past 12 months, down from $794 the 12 months before. Women spent, on average, $520 on CE, down $111 from last year’s study. Men reported spending $793, down $176 from the 12 months before. The average household reports owning 24 discrete CE products, down slightly from 25 devices last year.

“Several factors have led to a decrease in spending, including changes in consumer purchase patterns, product consolidation, decreasing price points and the high unemployment rate,” said Brian Markwalter, CEA’s senior vice president of research and standards.

The study also found that video products continue to be the most-owned CE device. Forty percent of televisions in U.S. households are HDTVs with LCD TVs the preferred choice. Internet-connected TVs and 3DTVs, both included in the study for the first time this year, are two new products driving video growth. In particular, broadband-enabled TVs are expected to have a quick uptake with 10 percent of consumers planning to purchase an Internet-connected TV in the next year.

Household penetration for LCD TVs grew the most of any CE device over the past 12 months as well, growing 12 percent year-over-year. Wireless CE products also gained momentum among U.S. households. Ownership of eReaders doubled to 13 percent over the past 12 months. Additionally, more than one-third of households now own a smartphone and almost one in 10 households own a tablet computer. These products are expected to see increased penetration in the marketplace this year as they were among the top devices consumers intend to purchase.

The study showed that households are increasingly streaming video content through their devices. Subscriptions to movie rental services experienced a 40-percent growth year-over-year. With more than 28 million subscribers, content providers have enabled access to services directly through displays, game consoles and other set-top boxes connected to the Internet. Greater broadband access will continue to increase streaming video subscriptions.