Black Friday Sales Start Early
Electronics retailers have preempted the traditional Thanksgiving kick-off to holiday shopping season. Pre-Black Friday sales begin this weekend in an effort to beat the poor sales figures predicted by analysts.
Holiday retail sales forecasts for electronics are gloomy: NPD Group expects a 1.3 percent drop, citing evidence that American families are still reeling from the recession. As in 2009, discounts and value will be the watchwords of the season.
The best advice to shoppers is to watch the sales, make a list and stick with it. The better values typically sell out early, so jump on it if it's on your list. Expect discounts on second-tier or store brands and older models from top tier brands that must be sold to make room for new inventory.
"Older" may be measured in months, and "newer" may not offer leaps in innovation. NPD sees no “killer hardware innovation” and says most technology is approaching "good enough status." Many of the deals offered by big retailers this season may qualify as "good enough."
Walmart yesterday announced two sales: a return of its online daily specials and an in-store electronics event scheduled for this weekend. Expect to see around 50 electronics deals each day ranging from second-tier brand TVs to Apple iPod bundles, most of which are not available in Walmart stores.
This weekend Walmart has deals on Vizio TVs from 32-inches priced at $300 on up to the 55-inch model for $900. You'll also find $50 iTunes gift cards for $35, limit two per customer.
Expect the Black Friday routine Saturday and Sunday morning with Walmart employees handing out a limited number of tickets for popular items two hours before stores open at 10:00 a.m.
Best Buy followed up today with its own pre-holiday in-store sale that starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday. Bigger ticket items include a 32-inch LCD TV from Dynex for $260 and Insignia camcorders starting at $175. Lower ticket items feature some big brand names: Samsung Blu-ray player at $120 and Sony's PSP Go for $150, which is $50 less than Sony's recently announced price drop for its handheld device. Best Buy is also offering $20 off Disney games for Nintendo's Wii.
Amazon.com is running a countdown to Black Friday sale every Friday between now and Thanksgiving. The items fit into four electronics-related categories: Connect, Play, Watch, and Listen. Watch for discounts on Blu-ray players, HDTVs, video games and speaker systems. All deals will be available during a limited time window each Friday, and one featured Deal of the Day will be available the entire day. The Deal of the Day will begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
While smaller than Amazon, Newegg.com is a specialty online retailer of electronics products and computer components. It has jumped into the early Black Friday fray and asks consumers, "Why wait until the end of November for big savings?" In a departure from the product circular approach, Newegg promotes one sweeping deal a day such as 10 percent off Panasonic TVs and several product-specific discounts.