Consumer Electronics High on Santa's Shopping List . / Credit: Santa and consumer electronics image via Shutterstock

Wired consumers will get even more wired this holiday season, new research shows. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of households that already have broadband Internet access will purchase consumer electronics this holiday season, a 37 percent increase over last year.

Consumers also plan to spend 33 percent more on consumer electronic (CE) devices this holiday season than they did last year, according to a survey of 2,500 U.S. broadband households conducted by Parks Associates, a market research company. The total spent on such gifts this year will be $1,058, a jump from $793 in 2011.

"Twenty-six percent of U.S. consumers intend to spend more on CE, the best rate since 2008," said John Barrett, director of consumer analytics at Parks Associates.  "For the first time, more U.S. households plan to purchase a tablet than a laptop, netbook or ultrabook computer."

Consumers want a device that offers both advanced features and portability, but have yet to find a product that blends the benefits of laptops and tablets, Parks said. The consumers most likely to consider tablets as laptop substitutes are ages 25 to 34, earning more than $75,000 annually or already own a tablet or multiple desktops/laptops, Parks said.
 

The initial enthusiasm from consumers when the Microsoft Surface was announced dropped sharply once Microsoft announced pricing and the additional cost of the keyboard attachment, Barrett said. "The iPad Mini, conversely, is luring many tablet buyers with its lower price point," he said.

Increasingly, these consumers will head online to make their CE purchases. In almost all product categories, intentions to purchase online are also increasing. For example, 47 percent of tablet shoppers plan to purchase online, versus 32 percent last year, and 25 percent of people looking for a flat-panel TV will purchase online, versus 17 percent in 2011.

For almost all CE products, online shoppers show a preference for online storefronts of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Best Buy. These findings indicate retail chains, despite current short-term challenges, will have a long-term role in selling and serving CE devices, Parks said.

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