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Black Friday TV Shoppers Go Big, Then Go Home

Heading out for the usual Black Friday surveying ritual is getting tougher and tougher each year as the Black Friday sales continue their incursion on our Thanksgiving celebrations. As is typical of TV related Black Friday promotions, targeting the sub-$500 mark is key for success, and this year is no exception. 32” is still the lynchpin of many promotions, including Walmart ($148 Emerson) and Best Buy (Dynex $179). However, Sears had the best 32” deal, with various brands available depending on local availability (Proscan at my local Sears) for $97.

But the standout TV promotion of the day was probably a 40” Toshiba at Best Buy, which opened at midnight locally, for $179. Given that the 40” LCD panel alone is more than $200, this was a huge loss leader aimed at driving crowds. The 18 units available at a local Best Buy were spoken for within the first 50 people in line, and lines were slightly larger just prior to opening this year than the year before. Inventory of TVs at the front of Best Buy was more conservative than a year ago, and many of the sub-40” sizes still had plenty of stock as the sun began to rise, so perhaps buyers were out looking for bigger sizes.

A similar theme was seen at Walmart, where a 50” Emerson promotion for $299 that began at 5 AM Friday generated a small line within the store to get the 25 units in stock, but after those were gone bulk stacks of Samsung 32” LED LCD TVs for $248 were left unclaimed. There is still a long holiday season ahead, and these are certainly just local qualitative observations, but it seems U.S. consumers are looking for great value in large sizes.

Traffic for computer related items was good, including some great promotions at Best Buy for an Asus 14” notebook for $249, a Lenovo 15.6” IdeaPad for $187 and a 15.6” Samsung notebook bundled with security software, a sleeve, mouse and flash drive for $349. After the key doorbuster promotions cleared out, traffic slowed considerably at non-mall based CE retail locations, a reasonable consequence of pulling people into stores before they go to bed, instead of after.