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A Blu Black Friday

23 Nov, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel, Chris Tribbey, John Latchem, Thomas K. Arnold



 

DVD, Blu-ray movies, video games, books, and music CDs accounted for 39.8% of purchases over the Black Friday weekend, with consumer electronics (including Blu-ray players) accounting for 37.7% of purchases, according to the National Retail Federation. Those figures were comparable to last year's Black Friday weekend.

A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the traditional start to the winter retail season, up from 226 million last year, according to the NRF. The average holiday shopper spent $423 over the weekend, up from $398 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion.

According to a NRF survey of 4,005 respondents conducted Nov. 23-24, 28% of weekend shoppers were at the stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared to 24.4% last year. The average shopper spent $172.42 online over the weekend, or approximately 40.7% of their total weekend spending, up from 37.8% last year.

A visit to an Oceanside, Calif., Walmart on Thursday evening shortly after the store’s 8 p.m. opening found cart after cart brimming with Blu-ray Discs, which were selling for as little as $1.96 in high-profile “bargain bins” in the main aisles.

Walmart said it processed nearly 10 million register transactions and almost 5,000 items per second during the Thanksgiving evening period nationwide.

“We had very safe and successful Black Friday events at our stores across the country and heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers,” said Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart U.S. in a statement. He said the much-reported planned walk out by Walmart employees as part of nationwide labor protest never materialized.

“Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates,” Simon said. “We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year."

Customers who were waiting in line for the 10 p.m. launch of a special electronics sales event — at which they could buy a 22-inch LCD TV for as little as $74 — appeared to be stuffing discs into their cart, with one holding at least several dozen, all Blu-ray.

Walmart said it sold 1.3 million televisions during the evening event, adding that  turnout for the iPad 2, Emerson 32” LCD TV and LG Blu-ray player was "amazing."

Employees in the entertainment section of the remodeled Foothill Ranch, Calif., Walmart store said the $38.99 LG Blu-ray player sold out quickly after going on sale Thanksgiving evening at 8 p.m.

"They're all gone," said the staffer after checking inventories in back. The store still had select Sony BD players priced from $69.99 and Magnavox DVD players for $19.99.

The LG player had been singularly marketed by Walmart among other select consumer electronics to lure consumers into stores. In a first, Walmart guaranteed pricing and availability online of the LG player to any customer who was in the store and made the purchase prior to closing at 11 p.m.

Indeed, the LG player was ranked No. 2 on the Top 20 best Black Friday deals, according to Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com and BlackFriday.BradsDeals.com, whose staff of 24 reportedly scours retail ads nationwide to separate real bargains from the hype.

Meanwhile, at a nearby Best Buy, discs began flying off shelves — or, more accurately, out of bargain bins — within minutes of the store’s 6 a.m. Friday opening. Recent hits such as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows as well as older films such as Traffic were available for $3.99 each on Blu-ray.
Widescreen TVs were flying off the show floor at both stores, with consumers lured by record-low pricing. Name-brand sets with 22- to 26-inch screens were selling for $150 or less, 50% less than a year ago.

At a Target in Escondido, Carlos Moreno waited in line to be one of the first to pick up a 47-inch LG Electronics HDTV for just over $500. He said he planned to pick up a few Blu-rays as well.

“They’re cheap, and it’s worth getting there early,” he said, waiting with his son for doors to open.

“There’s no question that millions of people were drawn to retailers’ aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could,” said Pam Goodfellow, director of BIGinsight Consumer Insights, which conducted the survey for the NRF. “However, with shopper traffic increasing at department, discount, and clothing stores over the weekend, it’s clear that consumers still recognize Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as they have for decades.”

Apps, Websites Help Navigate Consumers

More shoppers used smartphone and Internet websites to locate the best retail and ecommerce deals on Black Friday than ever before, according to The NPD Group. More than 21% smartphone users (primarily men) used their devices to compare prices on apps while 40% (primarily women) referred to websites during the day.

The trend underscores an ongoing concern among big-box retailers to compete against e-commerce and other discounters that increasingly make the final sale of consumer electronics and packaged media to consumers who first perused showrooms at Best Buy, for example.

The top-used app was Amazon (10% of Android users, 12% of iPhone), with eBay coming in second with an average reach of 7% users (again, skewing slightly higher for iPhone users). The results indicated that e-commerce’s “Day of Deals” continues to drive increased price-comparison shopping beyond the physical store, putting further pressure on the retailers.

For example, Amazon — via its Android price app — says it is offering The Dark Knight Trilogy on Blu-ray and DVD for $29.96 and $19.96, respectively. The $52.99/$39.99 SRP box sets include all of Christopher Nolan’s "Batman" movies starring Christian Bale, including Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and forthcoming The Dark Knight Rises, which streets Dec. 4 for $35.99 on Blu-ray (plus DVD and UltraViolet) and $28.98 DVD (plus digital copy).

The pricing was confirmed after visiting Amazon.com, again underscoring the Internet’s first choice as a go-to destination among Black Friday shoppers.

Website reach (percentage of users) was almost twice app use, with 39.5% of Android users accessing third party shopping sites, according to NPD. Amazon again dominated the category with 13% reach, while Walmart (6.3%), Best Buy (2.5%), Target (2.2%) and GameStop (2%) trailed slightly.
Walmart, Best Buy and Target have said they will match competitors’ online pricing through the holidays — with some including next-day shipping.

An analysis of the time of day activity revealed a significant drop in activity during the peak shopping period of midnight to 4 a.m. This suggested that the pricing tools were used less by the hardcore shoppers who lined up outside the stores.

“These shoppers typically already know what they are looking for, based on the well-publicized deals,” Eddie Hold, VP of NPD connected intelligence, wrote in a blog post. “However, once the initial grab-and-buy period slows, the smartphones come out to support a more paced shopping experience.”

UPDATE: According to projections from Home Media Magazine research sources, the Thanksgiving week (Nov. 18-24) represented the largest-ever sales volume for Blu-ray Disc, at more than 10 million units sold. It was also the second-best ever week for BD in terms of revenue, generating $110.6 million. That's only the third time Blu-ray revenue has crossed $100 million in a week, and a first for Blu-ray in November. The record week for Blu-ray revenue is the week before Christmas in 2011, with $113.5 million in sales. Blu-ray generated $109 million the week before Christmas in 2010.

 

A disc bargain bin at Walmart


Shoppers camped out to be among the first to take advantage of Best Buy's Black Friday deals.

 


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