Early Sales Figures Show CE As Tops In Black Friday Purchases

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More consumers bought CE this Thanksgiving weekend than last year, making it one of the most purchased categories during the Black Friday sales period.

According to early sales tabulations from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Caravan, 58 percent of Black Friday shoppers bought some type of consumer electronics product the day after Thanksgiving, second only to clothing.

In comparison, 54 percent of Americans purchased CE products during last year’s Thanksgiving weekend, CEA said.

Topping the list of most popular CE devices were portable MP3 players, video game consoles and accessories, and computers, including notebooks and tablets, the survey showed.

CEA’s findings were echoed by comparison shopping site PriceGrabber.com. Electronics, computers and cameras were the top three most popular Black Friday categories visited on the company’s iPhone shopping app, followed by appliances and toys, and eight of the 10 most popular items for Black Friday were CE devices, according to PriceGrabber website data. Among the top five: Lenovo’s G550 notebook, Apple’s 16GB iPhone 4 in black, and Hewlett-Packard’s Mini 110-1144NR netbook, the company reported.

Driving CE sales were deep price promotions that brought retails as low as $700 for a 50-inch, 1080p Panasonic plasma (with free shipping online, from Best Buy); $387 for a 42-inch, 720p Panasonic plasma (at Sixth Avenue Electronics); $298 for a 40-inch 1080p Westinghouse LCD-TV (Target); $198 for a 32-inch 720p Emerson LCD TV (at Walmart); and $179 for a 10.1-inch Acer netbook (at RadioShack).

Examined by category, PriceGrabber found the steepest Black Friday price drops in combo TVs (down 87 percent in average price); LCD monitors (down 36 percent); projection TVs (down 27 percent); laptop cases (down 19 percent); and cellphones (down 17 percent).

Local store managers confirmed the surveys’ findings. At a Best Buy store in Holmdel, N.J., home theater and major appliances supervisor Adam Zwickler said doorbusters went fast, including a $189 Toshiba laptop, a Wii and Samsung TV bundle, and especially the 50-inch Panasonic plasma. “That was a big one,” he said.

Major appliances drew “a lot more traffic than expected,” Zwickler added, while warranties, HDMI cables, screen cleaners and other high-margin attachments, listed for Blue Shirts on accessory recommendation sheets, “flew out the store. Some customers asked for them, and for others it was an instant ‘yes.’”

At a Costco in Long Island City, N.Y., TVs and home-theater products were the most popular CE purchases, general manager Jon Jovel said, while customers at a Sears store in Middletown, N.J., gravitated toward discounted laundry pairs, GPS devices and 13 TV doorbusters, reported Eleanor Marchese, assistant store manager for CE and majaps.

White-goods also sold well at a P.C. Richard & Son location in Manhattan, store manager Chris Peralise said, “Especially Samsung, which made its name in CE products and has carried it over to appliances.”

TVs and electronics similarly led the early-bird charge at a Target location in Middletown, N.J., store leader Michael Wexler reported, with shoppers clamoring for Wii titles, Xbox consoles, Nikon cameras and sub-40-inch TVs.

At a Kmart store in Hazlet, N.J., gaming systems, including Xbox, Wii and Game Boy, were the No. 1 electronics item Black Friday morning, said department manager Shelly Goldizen. “Electronics are always hot,” added store manager Jeffrey Holdren.

In contrast, 3D TV and iPad, both early Black Friday favorites, proved to be a mixed bag. Interest in 3D was “light,” Best Buy’s Zwickler said, and fewer iPads sold than anticipated. Sears’ Marchese agreed that 3D drew little attention, although P.C. Richard’s Peralise said the category has been garnering greater interest among customers.


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