CES Economist: Gadgets Are Necessities Now

Yes, this may be the worst recession America has seen since World War II. But the people who are bringing us the Consumer Electronics Show would like to point out that sales of tech products are actually faring pretty well when compared to what happened during previous recessions.

The evidence suggest that people’s views on devices such as televisions, notebook computers and mobile phones are changing, says Shawn DuBravac, economist for the Consumer Electronics Association. Through November of 2008, 17.22 percent of total durable good purchases were tech goods, the highest share in 50 years, he says.

“While these are typically discretionary purchases, consumers are treating them like nondiscretionary purchases,” says Mr. DuBravac.

That doesn’t mean that consumers aren’t making cutbacks. In fact, in many categories, consumers seem to be gravitating toward lower-priced items for varying reasons. For example, coming out of the 2007 holiday season, nearly 50 percent of all flat panel sales were over 40 inches. Today, Mr. DuBravac says, that numbers stands closer to 35 percent.

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