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What's Hot for the Holidays?

Oct 1, 2009

GottaDeal.com, which has released early predictions of big sellers for Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) for the past six years, predicts what's hot for Black Friday 2009. This season will be an important holiday shopping season for all retailers, both traditional and online. Retailers know this, and have already started contacting GottaDeal.com about having their sales included on this site, which is designed to alert consumers to good deals. These merchants are already taking steps to maximize their exposure to consumers, giving all retailers a clue as to what will be on many holiday gift lists this year.

Whether that translates into hotter deals than in past years remains to be seen. The steady stream of new Black Friday ads begins to appear this month, and indicates that retailers will be very competitive this year. Last year, the deals overall seemed to lack that "wow" factor that they had several years ago. There were some nice deals, but going by sales figures, as well as the opinions of the die hard Black Friday shoppers on the GottaDeal.com message boards, most stores failed to get consumers excited.

One trend that will continue is the extension of Black Friday from one day, into a prolonged period of sales. There were several retailers that had, "Black Friday in July," sales earlier this year. These sales were not really comparable to the regular Black Friday sales, but the trend of using the term Black Friday for sales that aren't specifically on November 27th will likely continue. It is expected that stores, beginning this month, will have Black Friday level deals in their weekly ads, and some are expected to even reference Black Friday in some way in those ads. But the best deals and the largest quantity will still be on the official Black Friday, as always.

With Black Friday once again falling later in the month, and less than a month from Christmas, retailers will have to get consumers shopping earlier, rather than counting on Black Friday and the few remaining weekends in December to provide most of their sales. Online retailers and brick and mortar retailers with ecommerce sites have the advantage here, as they can quickly prepare and promote web sales leading up to Black Friday. Early indications show what is expected to be touted by retailers, and in demand among consumers.

While HDTVs have been popular Black Friday items in the past few years, GottaDeal.com expects this holiday season will be a significant one for HDTV purchases. Prices have dropped this year more than any previous year, and with the digital TV transition now complete, a large part of the general public is looking to get a new HDTV, either as a primary or secondary television, and this Black Friday should provide a large number of deals. With HDTVs, quality can vary greatly, from the cheaper to the more expensive units. In many cases, the lowest priced models on Black Friday are stripped down models made exclusively for that retailer's sale. Many lack features and the quality components used to manufacture higher priced models. That doesn't necessarily mean these deals aren't great. It's just a case of buyer beware, as consumers cannot expect $2,000 performance from a $500 HDTV.

The two primary types of flat panel HDTVs in the Black Friday ads will be LCD and Plasma. Plasma HDTVs tend to be cheaper going by cost per inch, but that is not always the case, as there are some very high end, highly rated plasma models out there. The maximum resolution of an HDTV is also something that you'll see in the ads. Most will either be 1080p or 720p. These numbers represent the maximum lines of horizontal resolution that the TV can display at once. The resolution for things like Blu-ray and some video games and other sources is 1080p. Higher resolution means that these models will cost more.

LCD HDTVs can come with different refresh rates. As of a couple years ago, most models were 60Hz. Newer models are 120Hz or higher. Most consumers won't notice the difference between the different rates, although on some source materials such as movies shot on film, it can be somewhat noticeable. Newer technology such as LED backlit HDTVs has hit the market, however it will likely be another year or two before these models get the full Black Friday discount treatment from retailers.

According to GottaDeal.com's price predictions, consumers should fully expect to see 42" plasma and HDTVs in the $399 to $499 range this year. This compares with posted deals over the past few month for 42" HDTVs for under $600 in a few cases, so it's completely realistic to expect at least one retailer to have a deal under $400 on a lower quality model. These cheaper HDTVs will likely be 720p and will lack features found in more expensive models. Prices on 50" plasma and LCD HDTVs should also fall this Black Friday, perhaps to somewhere around $599 to $699.

One of the biggest hot Black Friday ad items traditionally has been the ultra cheap laptop. However, times have changed drastically in the last few years. Back in 2005, the thought of a $399 laptop made grown men drool with anticipation. Now, as component and manufacturing costs have dropped, it's common to see a $399 laptop in a Sunday ad any week of the year, or offered at online retailers such as Dell. The recent surge in popularity of a new wave of "netbooks," which are stripped down, mini laptops with seven to 12 inch screens, has also had a big impact on the overall laptop market, and the deals we can expect on Black Friday this year. Desktop computers, while still popular, are not as sexy as they've been in the past. They have become almost disposable because of price drops, and the fact that it doesn't take much (in terms of features) to handle what 99 percent of the general public uses a desktop for in their daily lives.

GPS navigation systems were huge the last two years during Black Friday, and that is expected to continue this year. There hasn't been much new innovation since last year, but prices have continued to drop, as new models have been released with incremental feature upgrades such as updated maps, traffic and weather capability and improved displays. Garmin and TomTom have been the cream of the crop as far as sales and popularity this past year, with brands such as Magellan and Nextar in the next class. With GPS systems, reading as many reviews as possible from current owners before choosing a model is recommended. Among the features to investigate are whether or not it is possible to update the maps on the device, and what that will cost. Many of the budget, no name models will not have this ability. With GPS systems, those willing to pay an extra $50 to $75 will get more features and are likely to be happier in the long run.

Predicting this far ahead is tough. Topping the list is likely going to be a combination of the same types of items that were popular last year: HDTVs, laptops, GPS systems and home items, particularly kitchen items such as appliances and housewares. Video games should be much stronger this year, due to price drops for some of the main consoles, as well as many new highly anticipated games that are being released this fall. Computers, including laptops, netbooks and desktops, should get a boost this year because of the new Windows 7 release, as many consumers will feel the new Windows is a good opportunity to upgrade to a new model.

In the toy category, there is some buzz on the message boards about the Leapfrog Zippity. The various Twilight related toys should be huge, especially with the new movie coming out in November. Disney is going to be releasing toys from its popular Wizards of Waverly Place TV show for the first time, and those are also causing some buzz. In the audio/video department, Blu-ray is the standard next generation format for movies, and we expect some nice deals on Blu-ray players and movies on Black Friday. We fully expect Blu-ray players to appear in Black Friday ads for as low as $99, and wouldn't be shocked to see a major retailer like Walmart offer a stripped down Blu-ray player for $79 this year, if the retailer is able to secure enough quantity.

While extremely cheap DVD movies have always been a staple of Black Friday, Blu-ray movies have been slow to follow suit. However, this year some very low prices on Blu-ray movies can be expected, especially on those that have been out for some time. Along with Blu-ray, home theater systems will also be popular as retailers attempt to get those consumers who are purchasing a new HDTV to make it a complete home theater by adding a receiver and speakers. Budget 5.1 channel home theater systems should be listed in Black Friday ads for as low as $49. Get one with an integrated DVD player for as low as $69.

iPods and MP3 players are always hot sellers on Black Friday. Apple may be introducing new versions of their popular iPods. In most cases, retailers cannot advertise iPods at prices lower than the standard MSRP, so expect to see promotions such as free accessories, free iTunes cards, or free store gift cards with the purchase of these music players. Accessories for iPods are also expected to see big price cuts. This includes items such as alarm clocks, docking speaker systems, automotive accessories, cases and headphones. Deals on MP3 players from manufacturers such as SanDisk, Creative, Archos, Samsung, Sony and others should be attractive, as they continue their difficult attempt to gain market share from Apple.

While a few years ago digital cameras were a huge Black Friday item, these days nearly everyone has one, and so it takes more than just a cheap price to get people to open their wallets. Digital camcorders are becoming a little more popular, as features are added and both prices and sizes are reduced. The new wave of compact HD capable camcorders is very popular, but prices are expected to keep them from being a big hit this year. There will be entry level, pocket HD camcorders in Black Friday ads this year for around $79. Highly rated units, such as those offered by Flip Video and Sanyo, should be popular this year. Standard MiniDV camcorders will be in the ads starting at around $129 for name brand models.

Digital picture frames hit mainstream a few years ago, and it seemed like every store had at least one in its ad, regardless of if they were an electronics store or not. Prices on these have fallen drastically as well. Deals have been posted during the last few months for under $20. In Black Friday ads this year, expect seven inch frames for $25 and 10 inch frames for $50. The matching digital photo viewer key chains will also be advertised, probably for as low as $5.

For the first time in several years, video games should be huge this Black Friday. While there are no new consoles being released, the combination of price drops on existing consoles, along with a great selection of new games being released, should lead to high sales on Black Friday and for the entire holiday shopping season. Recently announced price drops for both the Sony Playstation 3, along with the Xbox 360, should help drive sales this year, as those who were initially put off by the higher price tags of $399 or more will have a chance to get a system that not only plays video games, but also is a complete home entertainment hub for $299 or less. While no price drop is anticipated for the Nintendo Wii, the great selection of new games should keep it popular for yet another year. Shortages that plagued previous holidays are not expected to recur this year.

Topic: Business Strategies

Related Articles: holidays 

Article ID: 1215

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