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Black Thursday & Friday

19 Nov, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Retailers Best Buy and Target follow Walmart’s lead with deep home entertainment discounts on Black Friday and Thanksgiving

Consumer electronics and disc discounts are expected to abound on Black Friday, the official beginning of the holiday retail season, when merchants entice bargain shoppers with steep discounts the day after Thanksgiving.

This year Blu-ray players will get slashed to less than $40, with discs discounted to less than $2, and some retailers are moving sales up to Thursday.

Best Buy Co. will offer a Toshiba Blu-ray Disc player for $39.99 on Black Friday — matching Walmart, which is selling an LG Blu-ray player Thanksgiving evening for $38.99.

The LG player, as well as an Emerson 32-inch 720p LCD TV for $148 and an Apple iPad 2 16GB with Wi-Fi for $399 (plus a $75 Walmart gift card), will be guaranteed to any consumer in the store (which opens at 8 p.m.) and in line between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving.

Walmart in 2003 on Black Friday helped jumpstart widespread consumer adoption of DVD by offering a player for $39.99 — a drastically reduced price point at the time that also sparked an infamous scuffle among consumers in some stores generating national media attention. The retail behemoth made news in 2008 when it offered the first sub-$300 Blu-ray player — a price point considered vital to mass adoption.

Best Buy’s Wi-Fi Toshiba player includes apps for Netflix, Pandora and Hulu Plus, which all require separate subscriptions.

Best Buy is also selling The Hunger Games on Blu-ray, AMC Networks’ series Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD and The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD for $8.99 each.

The chain is selling 50 assorted movie DVDs, including Batman Begins and The Social Network, for $1.99 each, and another 140 titles such as The Lorax and Super 8 for $3.99 each. It is selling 50 Blu-ray titles such as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Wrath of the Titans for $3.99 each. Another 110 more recent BD titles, such as Snow White and the Huntsman and Captain America: The First Avenger, will retail for $7.99 each.

Target Corp. is also cutting disc prices, selling past seasons of “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” “Weeds” and “Seinfeld,” among others, for $8 each until supplies last. Recent seasons of “Entourage,” “Glee” and “Downton Abbey” will sell for $13 each.

Other Target “doorbuster” specials include Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Lucky One, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on DVD and Blu-ray for $4 each. Project X is selling for $6 on DVD. Releases such as The Vow, The Pirates! Band of Misfits and Prometheus, are available on Blu-ray and DVD from $10 each.

Walmart, beginning Thanksgiving evening, is selling DVD and Blu-ray titles Brave, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hunger Games, among others, priced from $1.96 to $9.96 (Blu-ray) each. Other items include  an Xbox 360 4GB + SkyLanders Bundle ($149), a Wii Console ($89) and assorted video game titles priced from $15 each.

Competition between retailers during the holidays has been ongoing for years, with the battle traditionally limited to store hours.  Today, the ubiquity of online shopping means consumers can shop 24/7, including all day on Thanksgiving, and stores have countered by pushing brick-and-mortar sales back to Thursday evening. 

In addition to Walmart, Target and The Disney Store will be open 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Thursday. Best Buy opens one hour later at 12 a.m. to kick off Black Friday.

“In our mind we clearly see the Grinch in this, and it is the Internet,” Stephen Baker, VP of industry analysis for The NPD Group, wrote in a blog post. “Fear is driving retailers to open earlier and earlier to leave a shorter and shorter window to the consumers when their only shopping option is online.”

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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