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Black Friday Aftermath

12/06/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Black Friday has come and gone, and from
all accounts there was more traffic and
slightly higher sales volume than last year.
That’s good news. But you’ve got to put all
the sales volume and consumer enthusiasm
described during the holiday weekend in perspective.

What is the aftermath of all
the deeper-than-normal Black
Friday price cutting for the CE
industry?

CE sales for Black Friday and
the entire Thanksgiving weekend,
especially including Cyber
Monday, were thankfully higher
than 2009. But 2009 was down
dramatically from the heights of
the middle of the decade.

Our coverage of Black Friday,
led by senior editor Alan
Wolf with additional reporting
by executive editor Greg Tarr
on TV and digital camera sales, provide dramatic details on
what went on at retail that day.

What is telling about Black Friday 2010 were
the deals available, of course, and how — with the
help from online research by PC or phone — it
has changed consumer behavior.

The special deals and packages, available
since Halloween weekend, built to a crescendo
through Black Friday and the holiday weekend
and were tremendous.

There were double-digit drops in LED TVs,
computers, home theater and other categories.
Packages were available for 3D TV that featured
instant rebates. The consumer was a bigger winner
this season than ever before.

If consumers were well-informed, avoided
impulse buys and kept to their shopping plan
either in stores or on line, they got historic bargains.
A comment from Jon Jovel, general manager
of the Costco in Long Island City, N.Y., that I
visited on Black Friday by midday, stuck with me.
He said in the CE department, “It looked like [this
morning] consumers knew what they wanted and
did their research. They were
well-informed.”

His observation was confirmed
by Monday when more
than one media report I heard
on TV said that while traffic
was up and sales volume rose,
many who were polled said they
passed on certain categories
if the specific deal they were
looking for was sold out.

So, please, turn back the
hype a couple of notches and
remember what Black Friday
was originally supposed to be
about: Retailers offer the consumers
a few incredible deals to get them in the
door in hopes of selling them higher end goods.

Now it’s incredible if you can find fully featured
products with legitimate margins available in
stores or online during Black Friday.

Training consumers to wait for the lowest price
in CE has been going on for decades, and they
have learned their lessons well. With shoppers
still concerned about the economy and only
focused on bargains, one wonders if the rest of
the holiday selling season will be about generating
some profits — or just about moving inventory
out the door before Jan. 1.

As some CE Hall of Famer once said to me
years ago (maybe Elias if not Gold), “You can’t
make a meal on a bowl full of volume.”

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