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CTA: Fewer TV Purchases on Black Friday

29 Nov, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Consumers coveted smart phones, laptops, video game consoles and smart watches

The push toward 4K ultra-high-definition television may be in full swing, but fewer consumers bought a TV during the Black Friday retail week (Nov. 23-29), according to preliminary data from the Consumer Technology Association (previously the Consumer Electronics Association).

Citing a survey of 1,000 adults conducted Nov. 27-28, the CTA found about 23% of respondents said they bought a TV, which was down from 37% a year ago.

“Fewer consumers purchased a television this year,” Shawn DuBravac, chief economist with CTA, said on a Nov. 29 conference call, adding that those who did buy appeared to be gravitating toward TVs with options such as Internet connectivity and 4K.

“Last year we had some inventory [issues] for UHD, we didn’t see that this year, at least not yet."

DuBravac said TVs, with 96% household penetration and 2.9 units per household, would remain a perennial top Black Friday item.

Historically, new products such as HDTVs and DVD and Blu-ray players saw half of their annual sales occur in the fourth quarter. The same applies to 4K UHD. Indeed, 65% of all 4K UHD TVs sold last year happened between October and December — compared with 27% of all consumer electronics.

“The holiday period becomes very important for new product categories,” DuBravac said.

Regardless, consumer patterns over Black Friday are shifting, driven by early promotions and by people increasingly shopping online.

DuBravac said that unlike recent Black Friday events bleeding into Thanksgiving, this year CE businesses initiated deals at the beginning of the week — notably online.

He cited Walmart offering pre-Black Friday deals at Walmart.com, in addition to Amazon’s “Eight Days of Holiday Deals,” Best Buy’s “Hottest Deals” and Target’s “10 Days of Deals” — the latter beginning Nov. 22.

“It’s probably more appropriate to call this ‘Black Friday Week,’” DuBravac said.

The CTA said that 39% of U.S. adults (96 million) planned to shop during the Black Friday weekend, with 45% shopping in stores and 41% online — the latter including 25% who shopped using a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet.

The trade group said it estimates that 18% of all online purchases will be made via mobile device.

“[Consumers] found better deals or comparable deals online. It made comparison shopping easier and they were able to avoid crowds,” DuBravac said. “Half of respondents said they could shop outside of store hours.”

Indeed, the analyst contends consumer interest in Cyber Monday (Nov. 30) could be diminished due to the migration toward e-commerce.

“I had even anticipated that that the term [Cyber Monday] would slowly go away because it’s just getting swept up into that broader Black Friday period,” DuBravac said.

Meanwhile, 57% of respondents said they shopped for CE (or technology), driven by smartphones (26%), laptops and computers (18%), video game consoles and bundles (14%) and smart watches (3%). Almost one-in-four consumers shopped for technology, or $160 on average and about 50% of their shopping budget.

The CTA said 14% of consumers said they are done with their holiday shopping, 36% are almost done, and 50% still have to shop, including 11% who haven’t begun.

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