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US spending on tech booms even as overall purchasing declines

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Consumer tech sales have increased 23 percent year-over-year according to NPD

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in sales for consumer technology in the US, even as spending declines overall, an NPD analyst is reporting. For the week ending April 18th, NPD’s Stephen Baker notes that consumer tech sales increased by 23 percent year-over-year. In contrast, the group tracked an overall decline in spending of 23 percent across the industries it tracks. NPD’s data also suggests that people are buying more tech to keep themselves entertained, not just to work or learn remotely.

TV sales are up by a massive 86 percent and are selling at the highest volume ever outside a holiday, according to Baker. People are also buying accessories like soundbars (up by 69 percent) and streaming players (42 percent). DVD and Blu-ray players were also up by 27 percent, showing that even physical media is getting a boost. That’s not surprising given that last week the NPD reported that nearly a third of US households are without broadband access, which could limit their ability to stream video.

Sales of monitors increased by 73 percent compared to last year, PCs were up 53 percent, printers were up by 61 percent, and microphones were up by a massive 147 percent. Chromebook sales are also reportedly seeing triple-digit sales increases, which makes sense given how popular they are in classrooms.

Underpinning all this tech is a 70 percent increase in the sale of networking equipment. Although not detailed in Baker’s tweets, we’ve also seen a shortage of webcams, leading to skyrocketing prices.

The data paints an optimistic view of the tech world’s ability to weather the pandemic. Something we’ll find out in detail in the days ahead as silicon valley reports earnings for the January to March period.