If you happened to hit the stores in the morning hours of Black Friday this year, you may have noticed that things seemed rather quiet. In fact, after the scrum of Thursday evening, Friday’s shopping hours seemed downright civilized. As photos and observations from gap intelligence analysts began filtering into gap HQ on Friday, I began to ask myself whether or not the “holiday” has the impact on TV sales that it once did. This year, stacks of bargain TVs still remained on store floors well into the week following Black Friday weekend, indicating that sales of the low-priced units were not as high as the stores expected. Despite these signs of unmet expectations, results after the fact indicate that TV sales did quite well over the weekend. In one example, Target reported selling 1,800 TVs per minute during its first hour of sales on Thanksgiving night.
A look at in-print Black Friday TV ads gives us a hint about where manufacturers and retailers were placing their bets for the big event.
Manufacturers increased ad placements for TVs sized 50- to 59-inches this year, with 31% of all ads, a 4-point increase over 2013. Screen sizes in the 60s and the 40s also increased, to 22% and 21%, respectively, while ads for the largest and smallest sizes decreased. This tells us that manufacturers were expecting increased competition in the popular screen sizes between 40- and 69-inches this year, and that shoppers were hunting for bargains on primary, rather than secondary, TVs for their homes.
Great TV deals could be had across the TV market, but I wondered how those incentives stacked up against each other. By looking at the average discount percent, I was able to determine that although Sony had the highest average discount by dollar amount ($564), it was actually sixth among manufacturers by average discount percent (28%). Samsung, who had the third-highest average dollar discount of $538, had the highest overall average discount percentage with 35%. In fact, Samsung so enthusiastically advertised its TVs for Black Friday that it accounted for 48% of all Black Friday print ads placed this year.
Manufacturers and retailers expected a boom in 4K UHD TV sales this year, and Black Friday ad placements followed suit. Ultra HDTV advertisements accounted for 10% of all ads in 2014, up from 4% in 2013. In addition, these ads tended to be more prominent than those for run-of-the-mill 1080p HDTVs.
Despite a slight decline in overall sales for the weekend, TVs still remained high on Black Friday shoppers’ lists. Several surveys reported that low-priced TVs were the most sought-after deals this year, as they have been for several years running, beating out smartphones and tablets. TVs are big ticket, durable goods and are products that many people still prefer to purchase in-store rather than online, two aspects that lend themselves to attractive Black Friday deals. Will TVs survive Black Friday sprawl in the years to come? Absolutely. But we must prepare ourselves for intense competition over a longer period of time as the holiday shopping season expands to fill the space we grant it.