Black Friday: The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Ugly27 Nov, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold
I headed out for the stores early on Black Friday not so much to do my own Christmas shopping as to see what retailers were doing to take advantage of what's traditionally hailed as the single biggest retail day of the year.
A full report on Black Friday activities, which is being updated all day long, can be found by clicking here. But if you'd also like to get my take on what I saw, please read on:
At Best Buy, people seemed to be buying handfuls of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs again. I was pleasantly surprised at the Blu-ray Disc racks, where several titles, including Disney's Snow White, were sold out long before 8 a.m. Smart merchandisers, again from Disney, also seemed like a beacon in attracting shoppers. Best Buy was a bustle of activity, and I rarely saw a cart with a 42-inch HDTV that didn't also have a Blu-ray Disc player stuck in there.
At Wal-Mart, $78 Blu-ray Disc players were everywhere, including right by the front door, in that aisle filled with promotional merchandise you have to pass by to get anywhere else in the store. I counted at least half a dozen carts with Magnavox or slightly higher priced Sony Blu-ray Disc players.
Wal-Mart may have created quite a bit of buzz in the days leading up to Black Friday with word of its deep-discounted Blu-ray Disc releases, both new releases and catalog titles. But my visit to the Oceanside, Calif. store was a big disappointment. Large cardboard Blu-ray Disc bins had been handed over to regular DVDs, and it took three passes through the electronics department before I finally found any Blu-ray Disc software--still behind lock and key. That's hardly a way to encourage the masses to go Blu, regardless of how many cheap players you've got stacked in the center aisle. If things were different at other Wal-Mart stores, by all means, let me know. I'm hoping against hope that lowball Blu-ray Disc pricing meant depleted inventories by 8, when I got there, and that the Blu-ray bins had been emptied by eager consumers and only then restocked with budget DVDs.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. I still saw several HDTVs with built-in DVD rather than Blu-ray Disc players. Why on earth would CE companies do something this asinine? Why not put an eight-track into the next home theater-in-a-box? Or a VCR in the plasma? The message we need to get across to consumers is this: Your high-definition TV needs a high-definition disc, or you're missing out. What companies like Emerson, the guilty party behind the combo I saw this morning, are doing is just wrong.