Many companies were surprised at our choice of costs this year. Americans who want to travel and party for two years, mostly after a stay at home, enjoy plane tickets and nice clothes – and ignore the yard furniture and soft pants we sold in 2020.
Consumer electronics can be a powerful center for Americans’ trading habits. Buying a gadget has suddenly shifted from a hot no-no, a change that is likely to bring pain and confusion to many companies – and a potentially great deal for those who still want to buy electronics.
During the first months of the pandemic, many of us were so eager to buy Internet routers, laptops, video game consoles, and other technical equipment to keep us productive and comfortable at home that some products could not be found. However, experts have warned that people will definitely stop buying certain types of gadgets until they need them.
Two years after the purchase of the gadgets, the magnitude of the changes surprised many. From January through May, electronics and hardware stores are the only retail category whose sales have declined compared to the same five months in 2021, the Commerce Department announced last week. Last month, Best Buy said purchases at its stores were down, especially for computers and home entertainment, and were unlikely to stay. And research firm IDC expects sales of global smartphones to decline this year, most dramatically in China.
What is bad for electronics manufacturers and stores may be good for us, but value hunters need to be careful. Nathan Barrow, who writes trade deals for Wirecutter, a product recommendation service from The New York Times, told me that the prices of some electronics are already being priced. But selling when inflation in the US is at a 40-year high may not always be a good deal. The discounted product may still be more expensive than similar models a few years ago, Barrow said.
Shopping habits have led Walmart, Target, Gap and some other retail chains to be left with too many wrong types of products. This also applies to some types of electronics, which means that during the summer shopping “holidays”, more prices are likely to be reduced from Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Walmart.
Barrow predicts that significant price delays will come on tablets, Internet devices, Amazon devices, and some laptops, including Chromebooks.
Research firm NPD Group said this year that consumer electronics sales are expected to decline in 2022 and again in 2023 and 2024 – but sales from the previous two years of electronics sales will still leave overall sales higher than they were in 2019. Despite overall higher sales. This phenomenon of selling electronics, which suddenly passes on the roof and then suddenly sinks, is disorienting for gadget manufacturers and sellers.
“It’s unpredictability that makes things worse,” said Gitesh Ubran, IDC’s research manager.
Making long-term forecasts is difficult for manufacturers, retailers and buyers of electronics. Some executives have said that global supply and access to essential components such as computer chips may never be normal in 2019. Selected electronics, such as super-low-cost TVs and laptops, may disappear forever as manufacturers and retailers strive for higher profits from more expensive products.
Experts in the electronics industry told me that there were conversations about how to prepare differently to prepare for potential future crises, including the spread of gadget production to countries other than China. It is unclear how our spending can still change in response to rising prices, rising government efforts to reduce prices, or a potential recession.
For some time, people in rich countries have become accustomed to the constant flow of cheap and abundant electronics, furniture, clothing, and other goods through interconnected global factories and shipments. The pandemic and its fears in supply chains have forced some economists and executives to reconsider the status quo.
It is possible that the electronics sales slump from 2020 onwards will be sorted out in a few years. Or maybe consumer electronics is a pandemic-changing microcosm of the world that may never be the same again.
Before we go…
Microsoft will remove features that claim to identify a person’s age, gender, and emotional state from its facial recognition technology. My colleague Kashmir Hill said the decision was part of a broader effort by the company and the tech industry elsewhere to use artificial intelligence software more responsibly.
California Rural is divided into Amazon Delivery Packages by drones: “I do not want drones flying over my house – we live in the country,” a resident of Lockford, California, told The Washington Post. (Subscription may be required.)
Related from last week On Tech: Where are the delivery drones?
Google Search is not what it used to be? Atlantic looks at the pieces of truth – including relentless commercialization – beyond the feeling that web search is becoming less useful. (Subscription may be required.)
You should definitely read my colleague Sarah Lial’s article about Wasabi, a half-retired champion Pekingese who does not play patch, runs fast and does nothing but enjoy her life.
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