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Black Friday Not Only Day for Holiday BD, HDTV

24 Nov, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

For Blu-ray Disc players and HDTVs, Black Friday won’t be the only indicator of how those products perform this holiday season, according to The NPD Group and others.

“It’s wrong to concentrate on just one day,” said Stephen Baker, VP of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “Discount shaving has been happening all year. For all of November we’ve seen low prices, and aggressive online discounts.”

Long before retailers open their doors Black Friday, consumers have been able to find BD Live capable Blu-ray players from Pioneer, Sony and LG for about $130, as well as 42-inch HDTVs in the $500 range, mostly in 720p, from Panasonic, Philips and LG.

MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which tracks national retail sales, reported Nov. 24 that consumer electronic sales for the first two weeks of November were up 6.1% compared to the same period of 2008, perhaps indicating that consumers have been taking advantage of early cuts from companies such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy.

“It’s a misnomer to believe consumers aren’t buying things this year,” NPD’s Baker said. “The issue is consumers are spending a lot less.”

A report from the research firm Yankee Group says that 63% of Americans will spend less this year than last. The Conference Board, a nonprofit business group that tracks consumer spending, reported Nov. 23 that Americans plan on spending an average of $390 overall this holiday season, down from $418 in 2008.

“Consumers are approaching the holiday season very cautiously,” said Lynn Franco, director of consumer research for The Conference Board. “Retailers will need to be quite creative to entice consumers to spend, both in stores and online this holiday season.”

Consumer electronics shopping comparison site Retrevo says deals for Blu-ray players and HDTVs are markedly off this year and points out that the $78 Magnavox Blu-ray player from Wal-Mart on Black Friday is Profile 1.1, incapable of handling BD Live features. The site reports that 18% of Black Friday shoppers will visit stores for CE products, while 22% will do their shopping from home. HDTVs will be the first CE item consumers look for, the site reported.

Consumer Reports presented research that backed that up, with 70% of respondents reporting they’ll be shopping for consumer electronics on Black Friday.

“Retailers are doing everything they can to entice shoppers by offering not only Black Friday bargains but deals for the entire weekend,” Consumer Reports senior editor Tod Marks said.

His publication reported that one in five consumers will be looking for a deal on an HDTV on Black Friday.

Consumer research firm BIGresearch reported Nov. 24 that 134 million people will hit stores over the Black Friday weekend, up from 128 million in 2008.

“Regardless of what we’ve already seen these last few weeks in terms of promotions, retailers still have a few tricks up their sleeves to excite Black Friday shoppers,” said Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation. His group reported that consumers will spend 3.2% less than last year, though the Federation did report a bright spot for the studios: nearly half of the consumers surveyed reported they would like a DVD as a gift.

Blu-ray and HDTV deals

Consumers will still find a fair share of Blu-ray and HDTV deals at stores this Black Friday weekend.

Amazon.com will offer an LG 37-inch LCD HDTV for $649.99 on Black Friday, while Sears has LG’s 55-inch LCD for $1,499.99. A 50-inch, 720p HDTV from Sanyo will go for $598 at Wal-Mart.

“We created a whole weekend of unprecedented savings online and in stores,” said John Fleming, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer. An RCA 42-inch LCD HDTV will go for less than $600 at the retailer, and a Nintendo Wii bundled with a Wii Sports Resort package will be priced under $300. An Emerson 32-inch LCD HDTV will sell for $248. Wal-Mart is also pairing the PlayStation 3 with three games for $299, and the Sony Bravia BDP-S360 Blu-ray player will go for $118. DVD movies can be found for as little as $9.

Samsung has dropped its 50-inch plasma HDTV down to $699.99 and its 46-inch LCD HDTV to $849.99, for all retailers. Vizio’s VBR110 Blu-ray player will show up Black Friday weekend at Costco for $99, and will include an HDMI cable. Vizio’s 55-inch LCD TV will have a $300 price cut at Costco, down to $1199. Vizio’s 26-inch LCD TV can be had for $248 at Wal-Mart.

Best Buy will pair a Panasonic 50-inch plasma HDTV and a Blu-ray player for $999.98, and offer a Samsung 46-inch LCD HDTV for $999.98. Target will offer an Apex 40-inch LCD HDTV for $449, and a Sony Blu-ray player for $149.99, with a $20 Target gift card included.

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