Sales of smart TVs, connected lightbulbs and internet-enabled security systems rose significantly during the pandemic as shoppers decked out their homes instead of spending money on leisure activities or going on holiday.
UK consumers bought 218m smart home devices last year, a 22 per cent rise on the previous year, according to research from trade association TechUK has found.
Connected TVs were the most popular purchases throughout 2020, followed by smart speakers including Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Nest devices, fitness tracker wearables and smart thermostats.
More time spent indoors watching streaming services throughout 2020 thanks to lockdown orders was very likely to have fueled interest in buying new TV sets, the study suggested, adding that a heightened focus on staying fit and healthy during the Covid-19 outbreak buoyed sales of fitness trackers such as Fitbits and Apple Watches.
More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of consumers own at least one smart home product, up from 67 per cent the previous year, while 21 per cent said they felt the pandemic had made them more likely to purchase a device.
Close to a quarter of shoppers said they owned at least three smart home devices, in addition to smartphones, laptops and tablets, compared to 17 per cent in 2019.
“The pandemic has really demonstrated how important digital technology has become in keeping us connected, entertained, productive and educated, and the data shows how familiar the public has become with smart home tech,” Craig Melson, head of devices at TechUK said.
“People really see the benefits of connected devices now and the challenge for tech firms is to make sure all the devices work together and instil the highest possible confidence that it will just work.”
Sales of smart products grew faster than the wider market for tech products and other ‘durables’, or goods that are expected to last at least three years, pointed out Trevor Godman, key account director at market research firm GfK.
“All these devices also mean that over half of our consumers now say it’s really important that smart home devices work with the other devices in their homes,” he said.
“This increasing recognition of the importance of interoperability is something that manufacturers and service providers must address, in order to keep the momentum in creating smarter and smarter homes.”