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Online holiday tech shopping expected to boom this year, analyst says

As fear of the coronavirus keeps many people out of stores this holiday season, sales of tech products are expected to see historic growth.

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Online shopping for tech products has boomed in recent months due to COVID-19.
James Martin/CNET

Sales of technology products like laptops have boomed since the coronavirus pandemic led to shutdowns, quarantines and work from home policies starting in March. With the holidays fast approaching and the virus continuing to spread, analysts predict that the fourth quarter will see "historic growth" in tech sales, particularly in e-commerce. 

In the fourth quarter of 2020, tech sales are expected to increase 18% over 2019's Q4, which saw only 4% growth compared with 2018, according to a Wednesday report from analyst firm The NPD Group. 

Tech products associated with working, learning and staying entertained at home dominated the second quarter of 2020, with high-growth categories including products such as notebook computers, tablets, monitors, printers, keyboards and mice, the report found. As we head into the holidays, NPD Group analysts said they expect customers to begin purchasing items that are more "wants" than "needs," like TVs and noise-canceling headphones. 

Most of these tech sales are coming from e-commerce, the report found. In the second quarter, 69% of consumer technology sales occurred online, up from 48% the year before. That number is expected to remain over 60% in the coming months. In addition, buy-online and pick-up-in-store purchases accounted for about a quarter of online tech sales in the second quarter. 

"Black Friday lines won't disappear but we expect lines of consumers waiting for store openings will be replaced by long queues of cars eagerly waiting for Buy Online, Pickup Curbside purchases to be placed in their vehicle," Stephen Baker, vice president and industry advisor for The NPD Group, said in a press release. "As we head into Q4 and into 2021, we're forecasting technology sales will remain strong as the pandemic has renewed recognition of the critical value of technology in the modern lifestyle, sped-up product upgrade cycles and created larger installed bases that will benefit the industry moving forward."

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