04/17/2013 03:51 EDT | Updated 06/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Pick up a tablet on the way home? Gadgets are now impulse buys in Canada: report

TORONTO - Some consumers may roll their eyes when they see vending machines stocked with expensive iPhones and iPads but one in three tablet sales in Canada are now impulse purchases, according to a report by the NPD Group.

"Spontaneous purchases have doubled, increased significantly, since last year," said Darrel Ryce, director of technology and entertainment for the research firm, who added that dropping prices are convincing consumers to snap up tablets.

"During the early adopter stage price is really not a factor, those people who want to buy these products are going to buy them no matter what," said Ryce, "but as you start to extend your market and move towards hitting the masses, then price becomes a factor."

The report pegged the average amount spent by Canadians on a tablet and accessories at $627.

Ryce said the latest research suggests there's a tablet in about 40 per cent of Canadian households and it won't be long until the industry starts talking about multi-tablet homes.

"I don't think we're that far away from that stage," he said.

The report also contrasted the boom in tablet sales to declines in PC purchases.

Sales of desktop computers in Canada in 2012 dropped 12 per cent, while laptop sales were off by 19 per cent.

One in five laptop purchases were made on impulse and one in four desktop PC sales were unplanned.

When asked about their future buying plans, the report indicated consumers were willing to hang onto their current computers for a little longer in favour of picking up a new mobile device.

About 53 per cent said they intended to pick up a tablet in the next two years, 43 per cent planned to purchase a desktop and 35 per cent said they'd eventually buy a laptop over the next four or more years.

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