Smart Home Spending Increased since Start of Pandemic

Despite nationwide financial struggles, over 75% of Americans’ home tech spending either increased or remained the same in 2020 compared to previous years.1  Americans received two stimulus payments during the pandemic—but how much of that went to smart home devices?

We surveyed 1,000 Americans age 18 and older to find out about their tech spending habits. How does your tech spending compare to the nation’s average?

Most Americans bought a smart home device during the pandemic

Home-tech spending thrived during the pandemic—85% of Americans bought a smart home device in 2020.

Here’s what we learned from those who purchased smart home devices in 2020:

  • 1 in 4 Americans purchased a smart home tech device for the first time this year.
  • 78% said they use smart home tech at least once a day.
  • 20% said they regret one or more of their smart home tech purchases.
  • 75% were age 44 or younger.

Here’s what we learned from those who did not purchase a smart home device in 2020: 

  • 76% said they’ve never purchased smart home tech in previous years either.
  • 70% were over the age of 35.

It makes more sense that younger generations are more likely to buy smart home tech than older crowds. The digital literacy rate for those age 44 or younger averages out to roughly 88%, while digital literacy for those above the age of 45 averages out to 76%.2

Tech spending increased or stayed the same for most people during the pandemic

The US Census Bureau reports that over 88,800,000 people are teleworking now.3 In August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated one in four employed people worked from home during the pandemic.4

With that added time inside, many Americans spent money on making home a more relaxing place to be. And with less face-to-face time, folks relied more on phones and smart displays to video chat with friends and family.

In 2020, 46% of Americans increased their home tech spending compared to previous years.

Nearly 60% of Americans say they spent more time using home tech this year compared to last year. Only 11% said they spend less time.

Smart home tech spending: money and time

  • 46% of Americans say they spent more money on home tech in 2020.
  • 22% of Americans say they spent less money on home tech in 2020.
  • 58% of Americans spent more time using home tech in 2020.
  • Only 11% of Americans said they spent less time using technology in 2020.

The majority of home tech spending came from those who work from home.

Americans spent more on home automation rather than security

In 2020, smart home tech spending for devices that enhanced entertainment, comfort, and convenience overshadowed spending for safety-related devices.

The most popular smart home tech products over the past year included smart TVs, smart speakers and displays, and smart lighting. Over half of Americans (55%) picked up a new smart TV during the pandemic.

Smart home tech spending for entertainment, comfort, and convenience

  • Smart TV: 55%
  • Smarter speakers or displays: 49%
  • Smart lighting: 32%
  • Smart plug: 28%

Smart home tech spending for safety devices

People were more than twice as likely to buy a smart TV than a smart security camera or smart lock.

Many of these smart home devices serve multiple purposes, so it’s not exactly about choosing home automation over safety.

For example, smart doorbells make it easy to get your packages and greet your guests, but they also help deter criminals and potentially provide audio and visual evidence in the event of an issue. And smart lighting may help set the right mood in your home but could also act as an alarm system or a deterrent.

That being said, over 40% of Americans purchased a security camera or alarm system in 2020.

Notepad
Where did America shop for tech during the pandemic?

Seven in 10 Americans’ favorite place to shop online for home tech in 2020 was Amazon.

Despite the pandemic, 22% said they did most of their shopping in-store. (We recommend staying safe by washing your hands or using sanitizer, masking up, and social distancing.)

How much money was spent on home tech in 2020?

Nearly 30% of Americans say they spent more than $600 on home tech this year, which is equal to the amount paid to them via the most recent stimulus checks. Only 7% spent more than $1,200, the sum of the first stimulus checks.

The majority of Americans spent less on tech than either of the pandemic-related stimulus checks, but only 6% said they didn’t spend any money on home tech in 2020.

According to data from the New York Federal Reserve, most Americans spent most of their first stimulus checks on savings and debt repayment rather than consumption.5

We’ll have to wait for future reports to see how people spent their second round of stimulus money, but we may see similar spending patterns on tech—especially for those that work from home.

As the pandemic continues, smart home tech spending will too

Between stay-at-home orders and businesses and travel restrictions, Americans spent a lot more time at home. And with that, they spent more money and time on their smart home tech.

While some folks invested in safety, most spending went toward devices like TVs that they use everyday at home. What sort of tech spending habits will we see in 2021?


Sources

  1. Safewise.com proprietary survey
  2. US Department of Education, “A Description of USAdults Who Are Not Digitally Literate,” May 2018, Accessed January 19, 2020.
  3. US Census Bureau, “Household Pulse Survey — Telework,” Accessed January 19, 2021.
  4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “One-Quarter of the Employed Teleworked in August 2020 Because of COVID-19 Pandemic,”September 15, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  5. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “How Have Households Used Their Stimulus Payments and How Would They Spend the Next?” October 13, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021.
Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
Trevor’s written about your money, your life topics for over six years. His work has been featured on Forbes, RealSimple, USA Today, MSN, BusinessInsider, Entrepreneur, PCMag, and CNN. When he’s not researching and writing, you can find him around Salt Lake City, Utah, snapping photos of mountains and architecture or seeking out some good tunes and friendly faces.

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