Hot Gadgets. Now they are not.

Many companies have been caught red-handed by changing our spending options this year. After two years of staying at home, most Americans are eager to travel and stay away from airline tickets and fancy clothes – and ignore the patio furniture and soft pants we stockpiled in 2020.

Consumer electronics may be at the heart of American shopping habits. Purchasing gadgets has changed from hot to hot, a change that could be painful and confusing for many companies – and there may be some great offers for those who still want to shop for electronics.

In the early days of the epidemic, many of us were eager to buy internet routers, laptops, video players and other high-tech devices to give us productivity and comfort from home that some products could not find. However, experts warn that people will pull back to buy some kind of equipment until they want it again.

The scale of change after two years of flush of gadget purchases has surprised many. From January to May, electronics and electronics stores were the only retail category that saw sales decline compared to the same five-month period of 2021, the Commerce Department revealed last week. Best Buy said last month that in-store purchases are falling across the board, especially for computers and home entertainment, and tend to stay meh. And research firm IDC expects global smartphone sales to fall this year, mostly in China.

Bad things for manufacturers and e-shops may be good for us, but value seekers need to be careful. Nathan Burrow, who writes about shopping for Wirecutter, a product advice service from The New York Times, told me that the prices for some electronics have already dropped. But selling at a 40-year high in the United States may not always be a good deal. Burrow says discounted products may be more expensive than similar models a few years ago.

The whipsaw in the shopping habit has left Walmart, Target, Gap and several other retail chains stuck with the wrong kind of product too much. That is true of some electronics, too, which means that more discounts are possible during the “holiday” summer look from Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Walmart.

Burrow predicts a significant price segment is coming for tablets, Internet peripherals, Amazon devices and some laptops, including Chromebooks.

Research firm NPD Group said this year that most consumer electronics sales are likely to decline in 2022 and again in 2023 and 2024 – but the last two years of electronics sales still outperformed overall sales in 2019. Despite higher overall sales. , This phenomenon of electronic sales unexpectedly passing through the roof and then sinking suddenly is disorienting for gadget manufacturers and sellers.

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

Making long-term forecasts is difficult for manufacturers, retailers and electronics buyers. Some executives have suggested that global shipments and the availability of key components such as computer chips may never be the usual 2019. Choose the lowest-priced electronics such as televisions and laptops, as manufacturers and retailers are linked to higher profits from higher-priced products.

In the electronics industry, experts tell me that there is talk of doing different things to prepare for a possible crisis in the future, as well as spreading more gadget production to countries other than China. It is not clear how our spending will change again in response to inflation, government efforts to keep prices up or prices to fall.

For a while, people in rich countries started to produce electronics, furniture, clothing and other goods that were cheap and plentiful due to the interconnected factories and transportation around the world. The spread of dengue fever and the chaos in the supply chain has led some economists and executives to reconsider.

It is possible that electronics sales, which have been rising and falling since 2020, will rank in the next few years. Or maybe consumer electronics are the microcosm of a world changed by an epidemic that may not be the same anymore.

  • Microsoft will remove features that claim to identify a person’s age, gender and mood from the face recognition technology. My colleague Kashmir Hill reports that this decision is part of a broader effort in companies and elsewhere in the technology industry to use artificial intelligence software more responsibly.

  • Cities in rural California are subdivided in Amazon package delivery by drones: “I do not want drones flying around my house – we live in the country,” one of Lockeford, California, told the Washington Post. (Application may be required.)

    Related from On Tech last week: Where are the drones delivered?

  • Google Search is not what it used to be? Atlantic sees the devastation of the truth – including useless commercials – behind the feeling that web search is becoming less useful. (An application may be required.)

You must read my colleague Sarah Lyall’s article about Wasabi, the semi-horror Pekingese champion who did not play, run fast or do anything other than enjoy his life.

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