The global wearables market has proved resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers look to better understand their health.
Global analyst company CCS Insight has predicted that 169 million wearable devices will be sold in 2020, a 7% increase on the previous year, with sales of wearables now expected to reach 300 million units in 2024.
This is despite the industry experiencing a slowdown in the first quarter due to supply chain disruptions delaying the manufacturing of smart devices, and store closures affecting sales.
The research found that smartwatches and fitness trackers, which are typically purchased online, fared well at this time, but devices that are usually bought in-person were “significantly hit”.
However, thanks to sales through online channels, which has proven “especially robust”, the market is expected to pick up in the run-up to the holiday season.
An area of the market that has been particularly affected has been children’s smart watches due to lockdown measures meaning that children are less likely to be outside of the home. The largest market for this type of device is China, which saw 8 million fewer units sold this year compared with 2019. However, CSS Insights predicts that devices aimed at children or the elderly will grow in popularity over the next few years.
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This has led CCS Insights to predict that the market will return to pre-pandemic levels of growth in 2021.
Last month, Amazon unveiled the Amazon Halo Band, which combines “a suite of AI-powered health tools” with a wearable wristband, the company’s first wearable product. Some have predicted that the pandemic could lead to an increased interest in health and fitness wearables, as well as the benefits they offer for remote patient monitoring.
Wearables have also emerged as a way of monitoring and enforcing social distancing.
Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at CCS Insight, commented:
“The wearables category enjoyed strong momentum before the pandemic, with most of its growth fuelled by new customers rather than existing ones. Although more-established segments of the consumer tech market, such as smartphones, have seen a sharp slowdown of upgrade sales thanks to uncertainty caused by the pandemic, wearables manufacturers have managed to sustain good interest from first-time customers.
“Although wearables will experience limited growth in 2020, we expect the market to recover quickly once the worst months of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global recession have been navigated. Our research shows strong interest in wearables, especially for smartwatches, and we predict that growth will return to the levels seen before this year’s dip. China will play an important role in this recovery, continuing to be home to the largest global market for wearable devices”.