Gadgets Were Hot. Now They’re Not.

Many companies have been cautious this year due to changes in our spending choices. After two years at home, Americans eager to travel and party are wearing plane tickets and fancy clothes – and ignoring the patio furniture and soft pants we splurged on in 2020.

Consumer electronics can be a hotbed of flip-flop shopping habits for Americans. The purchase of the gadget has suddenly switched from hot to note, a change that will probably bring pain and confusion for many companies – and potentially some great deals for those who still want to buy electronics.

In the early months of the epidemic, many of us were so eager to buy internet routers, laptops, video game consoles and other tech gear that we had to be productive and cozy from home that it was impossible to find some products. However, experts warn that people will inevitably withdraw from buying certain types of gadgets unless they need them again.

The intensity of the change after two flush years of gadget purchase has taken many by surprise. The Commerce Department announced last week that from January to May, electronics and appliance stores make up the only retail category whose sales declined compared to the same five months in 2021. Best Buy said last month that purchases at its stores have fallen across the board, particularly for computers and home entertainment, and that is likely to be the case. And research firm IDC expects global smartphone sales to decline this year, mostly in China.

What is bad for electronics manufacturers and stores may be good for us, but value hunters will need to be careful. Nathan Borough, who writes about shopping deals for The New York Times’ product recommendation service, Wirecutter, told me that the prices of some electronics are already being discounted. But sales may not always be a good deal when inflation is at a 40-year high in the US. The price of the discounted product may still be higher than the same model a few years ago, Borough said.

Walmart, Target, Gap and some other retail chains are stuck with the wrong kind of products due to shopping habits. The same is true of certain types of electronics, which means that the price is likely to drop further during the summer “holiday” purchases from Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Walmart.

Burroughs predicts significant price breaks for some laptops, including tablets, Internet networking tools, Amazon devices and Chromebooks.

Research firm NPD Group said this year that consumer electronics sales are likely to decline in 2022 and again in 2023 and 2024 – but the previous two bunker years of electronics will still have higher overall sales than 2019. Despite the overall high sales, this phenomenon of electronics sales is passing unexpectedly off the roof and then the sudden sinking phenomenon is upsetting for gadget manufacturers and sellers.

Jitesh Ubrani, IDC’s research manager, said, “It’s the unpredictability that makes everything worse.

Long-term forecasts are difficult for electronics manufacturers, retailers and buyers. Some executives have said that the availability of essential components such as global shipping and computer chips in 2019 will never be normal. Electronics of choice, such as extremely low-cost TVs and laptops, may have been better off as manufacturers and retailers became obsessed with making more profit from more expensive products.

In the electronics industry, experts told me that there was a conversation about how to do things differently to prepare for a potential future crisis, including the spread of more gadget production in countries other than China. It is not clear how our spending could change again in response to inflation, the government’s efforts to cool rising prices or a possible recession.

For a while, people from rich countries became accustomed to the constant flow of cheap and abundant electronics, furniture, clothing and other goods due to the interconnected global factories and shipping. Epidemics and uncertainty in supply chains have forced some economists and officials to reconsider the status quo.

It is possible that fluctuations in electronics sales from 2020 will cut themselves in a few years. Or perhaps consumer electronics is a microcosm of an ephemeral world that will never be the same again.

  • Microsoft will remove features claiming to identify a person’s age, gender and emotional state from its facial recognition technology. My colleague Kashmir Hill reported that the decision was part of a broader effort to make the use of artificial intelligence software more responsive in the company and elsewhere in the tech industry.

  • The rural city of California is divided by drones on Amazon package delivery: “I don’t want drones flying around my house – we live in the country,” a resident of Lockford, California, told the Washington Post. (Subscription may be required.)

    Related to last week’s On Tech: Where is the delivery drone?

  • Isn’t Google search the same as before? The Atlantic sees pieces of truth – including ruthless commercialization – behind the feeling that web search is becoming less useful. ,Subscription may be required.)

You must read an article by my colleague Sarah Lyall about wasabi, a semi-retired champion Pekingese who does not play fetch, run fast or do anything except enjoy his life.


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