Tech Spending Rises as Back to School Season Starts

Portable memory devices (71 percent), a basic calculator (55 percent) and headphones (52 percent) top the list of tech items for students, according to the CTA.

cta and tech

Back-to-school tech products and accessories spending is expected to hit $18.5 billion this year, with 59 percent of Americans doing back-to-school shopping this year expecting to buy tech or tech accessories, up 12 percentage points over last year.

These were among the findings of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)'s "Role of Consumer Tech in Back-to-School Shopping" study, which also found most back-to school shopping takes place in the month of August (60 percent).

A large majority of consumers will begin back-to-school shopping either one month before school starts (41 percent) or one to four weeks before school starts (40 percent).

The top three items of interest to consumers were portable memory devices, (71 percent) a basic calculator (55 percent) and headphones (52 percent), according to CTA.

Laptops (44 percent) landed in sixth place on the wish list, with enthusiasm for tablets clearly falling—just 22 percent of survey respondents plan on purchasing a tablet during the back-to-school shopping season.

In fact, a recent report from IT research firm IDC showed tablet shipments continue to decline, with the market receding 12.3 percent year over year as vendors begin to refocus their product lines and consumers hold off on purchases.

Still, worldwide tablet shipments, which include slates and detachables, reached 38.7 million in the second quarter of 2016, according to the IDC report.

The CTA report also found a little less than half (49 percent) of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop at an online retailer, with a whopping 80 percent of those planing to shop at an online-only retailer's website. Retailer's websites (69 percent) and auction websites (35 percent) also were popular.

In another indication that brick and mortar retail stores still serve a purpose, the survey found almost all back-to-school shoppers (95 percent) plan to visit physical stores to complete their shopping.

Of those physical stores, the top three types consumers plan to visit were mass merchant stores (88 percent), office supply stores (56 percent) and department stores (47 percent), with consumer tech stores landing in fifth place (36 percent), behind discount or thrift stores.

Overall, adoption of the internet of things (IoT) along with enthusiasm for emerging tech are expected to drive the American consumer technology industry to $286.6 billion in retail revenues in 2016, according to a recent CTA report, which forecasts more than 300 product categories including back-to-school staples such as 2-in-1 laptops, tablets, smartphones, headphones, Bluetooth speakers and others.