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Black Friday TV Sales Draw Bargain Hunters


TV market analysts were still processing
Black Friday sales data to determine the overall
success of the critical holiday selling period as this
story went to press, but anecdotal eyewitness accounts
told a positive tale for floor traffic and doorbuster

General observations were that retail sales were
up 8 percent to 10 percent, year over year from 2009
Black Friday levels, with CE sales proving to be second
only to clothing for the heaviest activity.

“Whether it was a successful Black Friday or not
is tough to say for TVs,” noted Paul Gagnon, Display-
Search North American TV market research director.
“Since there are so many weeks of pre-Black Friday
sales, it dilutes demand on Black Friday proper. We’ve
had four weeks of run-up sales before Black Friday for
consumers interested in TVs to satisfy that need.”

From informal observations in the San Diego market
area, Gagnon said: “It seems to me that customers
in general went after the basic featured, advertised
SKUs and didn’t do much trade-up substitution when
the ad SKUs sold out.”

Observations from several markets around the country
seemed to indicate that while activity was brisk for
key hours on Friday, it appeared to have dropped back
significantly at several Best Buy locations on Saturday,
to what could be best described as a typical heavy
Saturday in the New York and Dallas areas.

And at several Best Buy locations on Saturday, activity
appeared to be more heavily concentrated in the  PC section than in TV areas.

Riddhi Patel, iSuppli television systems principal analyst,
said “rock bottom prices” kept TVs moving fast at
Costco, Walmart and Fry’s Electronics outlets in the San
Jose, Calif., area over the post-Thanksgiving period.

“During the 35 minutes at Walmart, I must have seen
at least 45 to 50 TVs being checked out — the biggest
mover seemed to be a Samsung 32-inch model at a $328
price. Samsung had prime location in the aisles along
with Vizio 42-inch and Panasonic Blu-ray Disc players,”
Patel said.

A San Jose area Costco “ran out of a 55-inch Vizio
model priced at $900, pretty quickly,” Patel observed.
“I talked to the person on the floor, and he said that they
had about 50 units and all ran out pretty
early in the day.”

Similarly, she said a Fry’s outlet in
the area appeared to be moving Blu-ray
Disc players and TVs at a healthy pace.

In the Dallas market area, traffic appeared
to be up in several locations,
but a $198 special on a 32-inch Emerson
LCD TV was the apparent runaway
hit of the weekend, noted Randy Lawson,
iSuppli display electronics principal
analyst and manager.

“The deal of the day was the $198
32-inch Emerson TV. I must have seen
at least 100 of them toted out while I
waited in line … I saw many people with
two of them in their cart,” iSuppli’s Lawson

DisplaySearch’s Gagnon reported
higher average turnout at electronics
stores in the San Diego area over the
Thanksgiving weekend.

“The traffic at a couple of Best Buys
I visited was up from normal levels for sure, but one location
had a pre-opening line about the same as a year ago
and another had a much bigger line,” he said. “Most of
the people at the front of the line were going for laptops.
Inside, it seemed like the two best Samsung deals were
doing well — the 32-inch 720p for $327 and the $1,000
46-inch LED with Blu-ray package. Aside from that, a 24-
inch LED Dynex was sold out by mid-morning ($189).

“I would say at Best Buy most of the people were buying
32-inch CCFL [backlit] and mid-range 40- to 46-
inch CCFL and LED LCD TVs. Plasma wasn’t selling
as strongly it seemed at Best Buy — the $699 early-bird
special 1080p 50-inch from Panasonic still had stock at
9:00 a.m., four hours after opening,” Gagnon said.

As for better-featured sets, Gagnon said 3D and IPTV
models “didn’t seem to have a lot of traction at Best Buy
based on what was in shopping carts in the morning, but
may have picked up as the advertised specials got lower
on stock,” he noted.

Gagnon reported significant traffic flow at TV departments
of major mass merchants in San Diego.

“Target definitely seemed busier than a year ago, but
with only three advertised TVs, and those selling out
within a short time after opening, most
people were probably at Target for other
things,” he said.

“At Walmart, traffic seemed on par
with a year ago, [with] customers obviously
going for the $199 32-inch and
$398 40-inch 1080p from Emerson,
but those sold out quickly. Costco
wasn’t much busier than a weekend,
but the Vizio coupon models were selling
very fast in-store — mostly CCFL
[backlit] models,” Gagnon said.

In the Beaverton, Ore., area, “Ultimate
Electronics had a grand opening
that was wild. Cars lined up and down
the street and all the typical madness,”
said Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research
principal. “Most models were only guaranteed
with eight units.”

Pratt said she heard of small-screen
LED TV sellouts, but she personally witnessed
sellouts of CCLF backlit LCD

“The Westinghouse 40-inch CCFL at $288 was a sellout
at several of the Targets I was in,” Pratt said. “I even
saw a heated altercation with a customer and store manager
— they ended up subbing in an Apex 46-inch for the
same price — what a deal.”

Pratt said one electronics manager estimated that “the
42-inch Samsung LCD model at Fred Meyer sold out in five
minutes at all locations. I also heard that DLP was strong at the regionals with their doorbuster pricing.”

As for online specials during and after the
Black Friday period, Sears was aggressively
pushing Samsung TVs in a wide range of
screen sizes and feature sets.

Sears offered a pair of Samsung 3D TV
models online to set the table for the holidays.
These included the brand’s threshold-
setting 720p 3D HD TV plasma model
PN50C490B3DXZA at an $899 sale price,
down from “the regular price of $1,099.”
Also offered by the retail chain was the
Samsung 55-inch 3D-ready 1080p LED
LCD TV UN55C7000WFXZA at $2,199,
down $1,100 from $3,299.

Walmart’s online specials included Saturday-
only specials: a $94 Sony BDP-S270
Blu-ray Disc player, and $698 for Sony’s
Bravia 46-inch 1080p/60Hz LCD TV, model

Costco’s holiday TV promotions focused
heavily on Vizio and Hannspree brands,
including a 32-inch 720p HD Hannspree
model at $270 and a 55-inch 1080p CCFL
120Hz LCD TV at $1,090, $90 off the regular

Similarly, BJ’s offered a Vizio 55-inch
1080p CCFL 120Hz LCD TV model at $990.