Consumer sentiment toward the overall economy and technology spending reached record highs for the month of February, according to the latest data released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
The CEA Index of Consumer Expectations (ICE), which measures consumer expectations about the U.S. economy as a whole, increased 3.3 points from January to reach 181.2.
"There are a number of new tech categories that are showing strength and growth," Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D. and chief economist for CEA, told eWEEK. "Ultra HDTV continues to show strength, as well as health and fitness tech. Both are garnering increased consumer interest and awareness. Smartphones and tablets remain the top two sales leaders."
According to CEA’s semi-annual U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts report, unit shipments of 4K UHD displays are projected to reach 4 million in 2015--a 208 percent increase.
Revenue from 4K UHD displays is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2015, more than double its 2014 total, representing a 106 percent increase.
Additionally, this month’s ICE jumped 13.6 points year-over-year and reached its highest level for the month of February since the CEA Index began tracking in 2007.
"The underlying economic environment and improving economic growth in the U.S. is clearly providing support for increased levels of confidence," DuBravac explained. "The employment picture is improving and combined with lower gasoline prices and improving consumer wealth effects, the consumer is in a stronger position, and showing a great appetite for discretionary purchases."
The CEA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, jumped 6.0 points in February to reach 94.9.
DuBravac also said he sees the Apple Watch augmenting the health and fitness market overall, noting Apple has strong cache among a well-defined group of consumers, and predicted the launch would bring wide attention to the category.
"We are consumerizing a wide swath of health and fitness experiences and activities," DuBravac noted. "If you step back, this has been going on for decades. But the move towards digital technologies available to the consumer in their home in the last few years is accelerating that transformation."
This month’s level is 10.7 points higher year-over-year and stands as the highest level for the month of February since the CEA Index began tracking in 2007.
"If we continue along the current trajectory and avoid contagion from some of the global economic and geopolitical concerns, then I expect confidence to continue to rise as 2015 progresses," DuBravac said.
He also noted that analog continues to be replaced with digital, and connected continues to replace non-connected.
"We are seeing products that were once not considered technology, become smart as they are connected, digitized and sensorized," he said. "There are now smart toasters, basketballs and lightbulbs- and this is just the beginning."