By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2010 have come and gone with plenty of surprises.
First off, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that CE was among the most popular categories purchased this weekend, based on initial reports. Click here for the story.
Aside from Black Friday sales, the web was buzzing with stories, based on a Bloomberg report, that chairman, president and CEO of Howard Stringer would relinquish one of his titles — president . Who will get the responsibility to grow the business after the chairman’s work at stemming losses?
And there is plenty of conjecture this weekend that Toshiba and Vizio will join Sony in offering Google TV. Samsung has previously been mentioned in the mix. (P.S. My guess is that there may be plenty more players, and the key will be when they will be able to roll out their lines, among other factors.)
We will have a full report on Black Friday today followed by our Black Friday Webinar with The NPD Group on Dec. 8.
But it is the TWICE tradition not only to watch consumer media reports and the web, but to actually go out and visit some stores, which yours truly did in New York City, while TWICE senior editor Alan Wolf shopped his region of central New Jersey. We do it, if for no other reason, to find out what is going on at the store level. It certainly isn’t scientific, but we hope it gives you a little of the flavor of what was going on at the street level during the most-hyped day on the retail calendar.
This year I switched two of the stores I usually visit. Instead of going to P.C. Richard & Son and Best Buy in Astoria, Queens, I went to those retailers’ locations on 14th Street in Manhattan. And I went to my usual Costco in Long Island City, N.Y.
The word of the day about business from all three locations was the same: steady.
I’d like to share with you some of my raw notes from my three store visits on Friday, so excuse the choppy copy. For what it’s worth, here goes:
I got to Best Buy at 10:15 a.m. and specials were all over the place. A Coby 15-inch HDTV was on sale for $99.99, and at the top of the escalator was the Wii for $169. The PlayStation3 was there for $349; in fact, the busiest areas at Best Buy were in the video game and computer departments, but more about that later.
A 32-inch 720p Dynex TV was on sale for $279, with Dynex 1080p DVD players on sale for $42.99.
Sharp had a display to explain its Aquos LED technology. A 40-inch Aquos LED LCD was there for $849; Insignia’s 42-inch LED LCD was available for $799.
There were plenty of internal lines around the store in all departments.
Mike Vitelli, president/Americas of the chain, was there, surprisingly, doing interviews fed around the country about Black Friday and Best Buy. He said, “There were long lines outside and business has been steady here. For us we look at the entire weekend. Steady is great because we are able to move the lines and get [customers] through the store.” Fox News was also doing spots at the store describing the scene.
A Toshiba Satellite C655 laptop was available for $349.
I spoke with Amy Adoniz, the store manager. The location has been open for a year, a 24-hour store, and she said, “Traffic and sales have been steady … a little more crowded than last year. There was more energy on the part of consumers so far [today] than last year.”
When asked about the traffic in the video game and PC areas, which seemed like the busiest in the store, she said, “That’s deceptive since PCs are a more complex sale. You have to explain the products a bit more” than other categories. The store had a full selection of iPads and other Apple computer products, which were selling well, she said.
P.C. RICHARD & SON:
I arrived at the 14th Street/Irving Place location around 10:50 a.m. and visited with Chris Peralise, the store’s manager. He said this is one of the few stores in the New York-based chain that has TVs stacked three-high around the store. This makes for an impressive site as well as a good way to compare and contrast picture quality.
Chris noted that TVs were selling and that interest in 3D TVs have also picked up. When asked if major appliances, a mainstay at the chain, are a Black Friday favorite here, he noted, “They are selling well, especially Samsung, which made its name in CE products has carried over to appliances.”
The store opened at 3:00 a.m. with traffic being described by a salesperson in the TV department and Peralise as being “steady” — just like at Best Buy.
And there were plenty of deals in the TV department, where much of the action was. The average discounts were above or beyond 20 percent — 23 percent to 33 percent in camcorders.
Among the specials was a Sony Blu-ray player for $119 — 40 percent off that day — a 3D BDP S470.
A Toshiba DVD player, the SD3300, was $29.99, down from $49.99 on Black Friday.
The Samsung 55-inch 1080p LCD TV, which was originally priced at $2,399, was down to $2,099. Down to $2,049, and that day $1,594, was the model LN55C650.
An LG Electronics Blu-ray deck, the BD 350, was typically $129, with a price of $69.97 on Friday.
The Sharp 52-inch LED 1080p 120HHz, the LC52LE810UN, was originally $2,499 and then $1,999. It was down $1,689 on Black Friday.
Panasonic’s 50-inch plasma was $1,399, down to $1,082 on Black Friday.
LG Electronics had a 47-inch LED 1080P 120Hz on the floor, the 47LE5460, which was $1,799, down to $1,499 and then to $1,353.
I got there around 1:00 p.m. after enduring delays on the New York subway system. I picked up my car and drove to the Long Island City, N.Y., location, a place I have visited for several Black Fridays over the years. Unlike the other two chains, Costco is not all about CE, but it is the first major department you see when you enter the store.
Panasonic had a 3D TV display that was busy while I was there. A bundle was mentioned - a 46-inch 3D plasma TV, a 3D Blu-ray Disc player, and 3D glasses starter kit — for $2,119. With an instant rebate of $520, the price went down to $1,599.
Vizio was very popular in the department, with the 47-inch 1080p 120Hz LCD at $649, the E470VL. There was a 55-inch model, E550VA, which was $1,079, down to $889. Vizio dominated TVs in the department of 32-inch and 37-inch and larger sets.
Samsung was also there. The UN46C7100 46-inch 3D 1080P LED was priced at $2,199; it was previously $2,599. Samsung’s 3D display, with no package pricing like Panasonic, had glasses at adult and child heights.
Another Vizio, a 47-inch 1080p 240Hz full-array LED LCD at $1,299, model XVT473SV, was on display.
A $149 Sony 3D-ready Blu-ray deck with Wi-Fi, the BDP-BX57, was available. Sony’s 3D-ready Blu-ray BDV-T57 5.1 home-theater system was priced at $319, normally $399.
Jon Jovel, general manager of the store, said the activity in the CE department was “busy but not crazy” on Friday. “It looked like [this morning] consumers knew what they wanted and did their research. They were well informed.” Sales on Black Friday, up to that point at that location, “have been dominated by TVs and home-theater products.”
There will be more analysis of Black Friday, as I mentioned earlier, as well as continuing coverage of the holiday selling season from TWICE throughout the last few weeks of 2010.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.