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Appliances Playing Larger Role In Black Friday Promotions


Black Friday is no longer the bastion of
electronics, toys and apparel alone.

For the past three years major appliances have
joined the pantheon of Thanksgiving Weekend promotions,
as manufacturers and retailers sought to lend some
holiday oomph to sluggish white-goods sales.

Though not a traditional fourth-quarter category — majaps
largely remains a replacement business, particularly
during the recession — refrigeration and laundry products
vied with TVs and jewelry for share-of-wallet on Black
Friday weekend. Sales promotions included rebates,
two-for-one laundry pairs, and refrigeration price cuts on
Whirlpool-, LG-, Frigidaire-, GE-, Samsung- and Kenmorebranded

“Major appliances are now an important part of Black
Friday,” observed Betsey Owens, VP of Sears’ privatelabel
Kenmore brand. Sears helped establish the tradition
of hot appliance promotions three years ago, Owens told
TWICE, and since then, “We’ve seen cost-competition on
the day after Thanksgiving become something consumers
anticipate. They know there are great deals out there.”

This Black Friday weekend did not disappoint, as earlybird
shoppers found a plethora of aggressive majap discounts
in stores. At Sears, Kenmore led the charge with
washer-dryer pairs that were essentially packaged as twofor-
one doorbusters, while a 25 percent-off sale on the
premium Kenmore Elite line reduced the retail of a 28-cubic-
foot three-door refrigerator from $2,700 to $1,500.

At Lowe’s, Whirlpool took center stage with a mail-in rebate
program that offered up to $625 in savings on select
kitchen appliances. Other Whirlpool incentives included a
free cooktop with the purchase of a single or double wall
oven, and front-load laundry pedestals for $99 each.

Within the specialty channel, hhgregg offered two
pedestals for the price of one with the purchase of any
front-load laundry pair, including a 4-cubic-foot Whirlpool
washer and companion electric dryer for $799. Sisterbrand
Maytag was also represented, with a 25-cubic-foot
stainless-steel three-door fridge that was reduced from
$2,200 to $999.

In contrast, Best Buy put LG, Samsung and Frigidaire
front and center on Black Friday morning. Sales included
an LG front-load laundry pair at a two-for-one price
of $1,000; 30-percent off a 28.5-cubic-foot Samsung
three-door, stainless steel fridge, priced at $1,890; and a
5.4-cubic-foot Frigidaire stainless electric range for $400,
a savings of $300.

The doorbusters apparently hit their mark. According to
online shopping comparison site

, appliances
was the fourth most popular Black Friday category
visited on the company’s iPhone shopping app that day,
after electronics, computers and cameras, and followed
by toys in fifth place. What’s more, PriceGrabber analytics
data showed that refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and
washers were among the top five non-tech growth categories
on Black Friday. Refrigerators enjoyed the greatest
growth, up 168 percent in PriceGrabber searches year
over year, followed by third-place vacuums (up 100 percent)
and fifth-place washers (up 60 percent).

Mark Delaney, director of The NPD Group’s home division,
anticipated that the promotions would spur a big
turnout by bargain-conscious customers. “Now that
consumers have become accustomed to look for appliance
deals on Black Friday, the current economic climate
should give this industry a much-needed shot in the arm
this month,” he said.

Delaney’s forecast is supported by recent sales trends.
According to NPD’s point-of-sale leader panel, Black Friday
has played an increasingly important role in annual
major appliance sales since 2007. Among its findings,
sales of white goods increased during Black Friday week
of 2008 despite lower November sales overall, while industrywide
unit sales in both 2008 and 2009 nearly doubled
during Black Friday week over the preceding weeks
of November.

Beyond price, “innovation and color have been the driving
trends in major appliances over the past few years,”
Delaney observed. According to NPD’s Economy Tracker,
dollar sales of three-door refrigerators grew by more than
50 percent during each Black Friday week between 2007
and 2009.

In terms of finish, stainless steel was the shining star
of Black Friday 2007 for refrigerators, but the spotlight
turned to black and stainless-look exteriors over the last
two years. While still the largest segment,
stainless steel may continue to lose some of
its sheen due to its high price point, NPD said,
amid the uncertain economy.

Top-load washer sales similarly took a hit in
November 2008, as front-load models tripled in
unit growth and doubled in dollar growth during
Black Friday week. However, top-load models
regained lost ground last year as greater wash
capacities and higher energy and water efficiency
helped bring sales back to 2007 levels, which
contributed to a 20 percent decline in front-loader
sales compared with Black Friday 2008.

Color as well as drum configuration also
played a role in Black Friday week laundry sales
in 2008, and even more so in 2009. Color washers
and dryers are heavily promoted categories
on Black Friday, and while white remains king of
the laundry room, with the highest sales volumes
overall, color models tripled their dollar sales
during Black Friday week 2009, NPD said.