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Retailers Launch Pre- Black Friday Promotions Following Tepid October


Holiday promotions couldn’t come
soon enough for retailers, as discount chains cited sagging
sales of TVs and other CE products in October.

In an effort to kick-start demand, Sears and

used Halloween weekend as the starting point
for their seasonal CE sales, followed by a salvo of TV
and PC discounts by Walmart and Best Buy. Others,
including Target, will hold their fire until Thanksgiving
week, when retailers are expected to unleash a fierce
barrage of deep CE promotions leading up to Black

Target will need the holiday activity to stimulate
sales after October’s tepid results. Revenue rose 2.2
percent to $4.6 billion and same-store sales rose 1.7
percent for the four-week period. “October sales were
near the low end of our expectations,” acknowledged
chairman/president/CEO Gregg Steinhafel, although
business improved in the back-half of the month and
sales of non-discretionary items — with the exception of
prerecorded music and movies — continue to outpace
other categories.

“While the environment remains uncertain, we’re entering
the fourth quarter with exciting holiday marketing
and compelling merchandise,” he said, including the
Nov. 7 rollout of the iPhone and a 5 percent discount
on all purchases made with Target’s private-label credit
card or debit cards.

Within the wholesale club channel, Costco said net
sales rose 11 percent to $6.3 billion for the four weeks
ending Oct. 31, while U.S. same-store sales rose 3 percent
excluding the favorable impact of higher gasoline

Comp-store sales of CE slid by the low single digits,
due largely to a mid-teens percentage drop in TV unit
volume year over year. The decline was partially offset
by comp increases in majaps, navigation and wireless,
the company said.

TVs also faltered at BJ’s Wholesale Club, where net
sales increased 6.3 percent to $812.7 million last month
and same-store sales rose 2.2 percent excluding gasoline.
The chain achieved the sales gains without the help of TVs
and pre-recorded video, which were among its weakest performers
compared to the year-ago period, BJ’s said.

In an effort to jumpstart seasonal sales, other national
retailers began launching CE-specific promotional events
before Halloween. Sears,

and Dell fired the
first salvos last month, followed by an early November CE
sale by Walmart.

Amazon said it will offer a selection of CE deals each Friday
through Thanksgiving at

while Sears and sister chain Kmart are holding weekly CE
sales events that will continue through Christmas.

Sears’ program began with a $300 discount on a 50-
inch Panasonic 1080p plasma TV that regularly retails there
for $1,199. Combined with a new monthly payment plan,
which allows customers to manage their spending over a
48-month period on qualifying in-store purchases of $750,
customers were able to purchase the TV for $899 or $25
per month.

The current CE sales event, running Oct. 31-Nov. 6, includes
a 52-inch, 240Hz Sony Bravia LED-TV for $1,600,
reduced from $2,800, and a 10-inch ViewSonic Viewpad
Wi-Fi tablet with Android 2.2, reduced $20 to $380.

Next week’s promos will include price cuts and loyalty
program points on purchases of TV bundles and video
games, including a 42-inch 120Hz 1080p Panasonic LCD
and an unspecified home-theater system for $750, reduced
in-store from $1,100 at Sears, along with 70,000 rewards

Sears’ CE-specific discounts are in addition to a weekly
“Black Friday Now” sales event that will run each Friday and
Saturday through Christmas. Parent company Sears Holdings
said the CE holiday promotion comes in response to
increased demand from consumers “seeking the hottest
deals and must-have electronics this season.”

Dell’s Halloween-themed event ran through Nov. 2 and
included free shipping on a pair of discounted Vizio 1080p
LCD TVs. The 37-inch E370VA sold for $480, a savings of
$60, and its 47-inch counterpart was reduced by $150 to
$780, Dell said.

Vizio was also the focus of the first in a series of CE
holiday sales events by Walmart this past weekend. The
discounter’s “Amazing Walmart Electronics Event” also included
reduced pricing on Vizio TVs, a Compaq laptop and
a Sony PlayStation3 Move bundle, plus discounts on iTunes
gift cards.

“We know our customers are starting their holiday shopping
now, and they are looking for consumer electronics
gifts that the entire family can enjoy together,” said Gary
Severson, entertainment senior VP for Walmart U.S. “This
is the first of many holiday savings events around the hottest
consumer electronics gifts, and we are committed to continuing
to offer families incredible savings on the best gifts
they want throughout the entire holiday season.”

Discounts on Vizio TVs included:

• $100 off a 26-inch 720p LED model, sale price $198;

• $50 off a 32-inch 720p LCD model, sale price $298;

• $50 off a 42-inch 1080p LCD sale price, $498;

• $100 off a 47-inch 1080p, 120Hz LCD, sale price $698;

• $200 off a 55-inch 1080p, 120Hz LCD, sale price $898.

The Compaq laptop, on sale for $288, features 2GB of
RAM, a 250GB hard drive, a 15.6-inch display and an Intel
Celeron processor.

The Sony PlayStation3 offer included a 320GB console
with Move Bundle and a $50 Walmart gift card for

Walmart also offered $50 iTunes gift cards for $35.
The sale items were available while supplies lasted,
and most were also offered online at, the
discounter said.

Not to be outdone, Best Buy held a “Shop Early, Save
Big” sales event last weekend that included discounts on
Samsung and Sony products, smartphones from Verizon
Wireless and private-label Dynex and Insignia devices.

Deals included an exclusive eMachines laptop configured
with an AMD V-Series Processor for $280; a
32-inch Dynex 720p, 60Hz LCD for $260; a Samsung
Blu-ray Disc player for $120; HTC’s Droid Incredible for
Verizon Wireless for $100 with contract; Sony’s PSP go
handheld game console for $150; and an imaging package
that includes an Insignia HD camcorder, Lowepro
Edit 110 bag, Dynex 60-inch tripod, and PNY 4GB memory
card for about $220.

Best Buy will also offer a $20 discount on select Disney
Wii Family Games and 20-percent off MP3 speaker

 “We know that customers are looking to get a jump
start on their holiday shopping,” said Drew Panayiotou,
Best Buy’s senior VP U.S. marketing. “By offering them
the opportunity to save on the latest and greatest technology
gifts now and throughout holiday, we’re reinforcing
our commitment to provide an unmatched shopping
experience both in-store and online this season with
some of the best prices in the industry.”

The chain said it will continue its “Shop Early, Save
Big” sales event the following weekend with a new slate
of discounted items.

Meanwhile, Target announced plans for a four-day pre-
Thanksgiving sale beginning Nov. 21 that will include
deep discounts on CE, and said it will offer doorbuster
deals on 25 items on Black Friday, its most ever. The
retailer will also mount an online-only sales event on
Thanksgiving, and will offer free shipping on all purchases
of $50 or more from Nov. 21 to Dec. 11.