CE Sales Surged Over Black Friday Weekend

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Deep discounts on TVs, laptops, Blu-ray Disc players and low-end tablets led to a banner Black Friday weekend for CE.

Adam Levin, CEO of Levin Consulting, estimated that weekend sales of consumer electronics were up between 8 percent and 10 percent from last year, based on his team’s on-site observations at a statistically significant 200-plus stores.

“We saw crowds buying CE at traffic levels that were easily the highest of the last five years,” he noted in a Black Friday recap for clients.

The reports were supported by The NPD Group, which found that CE enjoyed the largest share gain of any major product category on Black Friday. According to the market research firm’s Anatomy of Black Friday Study, CE share increased 23.8 percent the day after Thanksgiving, from a 19.7 share in 2010 to a 24.4 share this past Nov. 25.

All told, nearly half of all shoppers bought technology products over the holiday weekend, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reported, making it the second most coveted category after clothing. And, according to NPD, more than 23 percent of shoppers purchased some type of electronics product on Black Friday, 15 percent more than last year and 50 percent above toys, which was the third most popular category.

“Mature product categories such as televisions, digital cameras and MP3 players fared well [Black Friday] weekend as unprecedented price points proved too tempting for shoppers to ignore,” noted CEA chief economist and research director Shawn DuBravac.

Indeed, 61 percent of shoppers polled in a CEA Black Friday survey described the deals and sales as good or excellent, and more so in stores (60 percent) than online (35 percent).

The data were mirrored in the NPD study, which found that almost 65 percent of tech purchasers were driven into stores or online because “they saw what they really wanted on sale,” observed the firm’s industry analysis VP Stephen Baker.

Levin agreed. “Deals were strong, consumers were willing, and as a result, CE sales skyrocketed,” he said.

NPD also attributed the gains to earlier store openings. Half of all CE buyers shopped doorbuster sales between midnight and 3 a.m., a huge increase from last year’s 13 percent, while more than 28 percent of, the shopping trips by CE buyers began on Thanksgiving evening and continued to 3 a.m. on Friday, up from 5 percent in 2010.

“A confluence of factors kept consumer electronics top of mind during Black Friday,” said Baker. “The Black Friday promotional period expanding, the continuing focus on electronics in advertising and sales messaging, and the popularity of the category in general have helped to make Black Friday the consumer electronics shopping holiday.”

Which tech categories were consumers clamoring for? Leading the charge was TV, which surpassed computers as the most popular CE category excluding games, Baker said. Nearly 6 percent of all Black Friday shoppers walked out with a new set, a 36 percent increase from 2010.

The findings were supported by PriceGrabber, the comparison shopping site, which cited “55-inch LED TV” as the No. 1 search within tech, toys and clothing on Black Friday, followed by “PlayStation3,” “Xbox 360,” “Eos Rebel T3i” and “iPod Touch fourthgeneration 8GB.”

Other weekend winners, Levin said, included gaming low-end notebooks, headphones, tablets, e-readers, low-priced soundbars and anything Apple. In addition, gaming systems were “red hot, with Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us all beating expectations.”

According to NPD, sales of video game consoles and software surged 35 percent on Black Friday, followed by tablets at 34 percent. But the day’s biggest gainer was smartphones, with sales growth of 85 percent year over year, Baker noted.

Levin also cited two Black Friday “surprises”: TV’s staying power and the resurgence of DVDs. “TV was strong all weekend long, starting with the doorbusters late Thursday night and extending into higher-end sets the rest of the weekend,” he observed. “Again, the focus was on value, not on technology — 3D was not the hot button.”

Similarly, great deals by retailers led to better-than-projected sales of DVDs and other pre-recorded media, which he described as an otherwise “dead category.”

Levin added that sustained sales of higher-end TVs along with smartphones, notebooks and tablets after the initial doorbuster rush was “a great sign for the season, as they contribute to increases in traffic and revenue. Coupled with Apple products, e-readers and headphones, the industry has a large number of products that are high up on the holiday wish lists.”


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