Some of the shine could be coming off of Apple this holiday season.
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey asked 806 respondents across the country if they plan to give or receive an Apple product for Christmas and the answer came in at 15 percent, down 3 percentage points from when we last asked the question in 2012.
The decline is within the survey's 3.5 point margin of error but shows that the percent of Americans thinking "Apple" products for the holidays is at best stagnant and, at worst, down. If that translates into broader sales growth declines, it could be trouble for a stock trading on Wall Street expectations for tens of millions of unit sales and growing market share.
Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves recently called for investors to reduce their Apple exposure, in part, because he doesn't see new user growth. "We believe extraordinary replacement activity, rather than stronger than expected new iPhone user growth, is driving much of the strength.'' He does believe Apple will have a good holiday season but that sales could fall off from there.
"We see risk that the positive impact of strong … iPhone sales will be replaced by renewed concerns of market saturation and decelerating iPhone growth," Hargreaves said.
Before you sell the stock, however, some words of caution. The survey asked specifically about whether respondents plan to give or receive an Apple product for "the holiday season." The latest iPhones were launched in September and estimates are that it will be the most successful iPhone yet.
It could well be that a big chunk of what would normally be holiday sales took place, instead, in the fall. And, a cellphone is such a ubiquitous "appliance" in the world today, that it could be their purchase is tied less and less to the holidays; that is, people get a cellphone when they need a cellphone and no one warms anyone's hearts by putting the equivalent of a toaster under the tree ... albeit a toaster with apps.
And a positive for Apple could come from another survey question: whether Americans plan to buy or currently own "wearable technology." The answer registered a fairly strong 15 percent for a product that just started being discussed in the popular press, and just barely at that. Nine percent say they already own wearable tech and 6 percent plan to buy it in the future. Apple plans to introduce a smartwatch early next year. But few analysts expect watches to be sold in the same volume as cellphones.
The poll of 806 Americans nationwide was conducted by the Republican/Democrat polling team of Hart-McInturff over Thanksgiving weekend.