Market Insight

Hot Take - 2019 Black Friday TV Early Observations

November 29, 2019  | Subscribers Only

Paul Gagnon Paul Gagnon Research and Analysis Executive Director, TV, Consumer Electronics and Devices

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11 store visits on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday morning

  • As an annual tradition, and a useful way of gathering early holiday selling season insight, we visited 8 different locations in the San Diego area for various key retailers selling TVs on Black Friday.
  • We visited some locations twice, once on Thanksgiving and again the morning of Black Friday. This allows comparison of floor inventory during the preceding night and early Black Friday morning.
  • Aside from doorbuster sales, which are usually sold out immediately, most promotions run through the weekend.
  • These early observations are an informal tool, and don’t necessarily reflect nationwide trends or sales during the extended holiday weekend period

Despite continued shift online, and heavy rain, traffic was strong

  • The San Diego area experienced a strong storm system throughout the day on Thanksgiving, and continuing into Black Friday morning. It did not deter too many shoppers from turning out in their galoshes and toting umbrellas
  • Most stores started selling Black Friday doorbuster items at 6PM on Thanksgiving, while letting shoppers in a little early to avoid chaos
  • To see a preview of Black Friday, and our tracking of key TV promotions, please read our  recently published analyst insight.
  • Online sales continue to account for a growing share of overall holiday season sales, including for Black Friday. Shopping at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and picking up in the store a few hours later has been a key advantage for Best Buy, and many shoppers were seen waiting in the store pickup line.
  • Cyber Monday is basically an extension of Black Friday.
  • Black Friday weekend is very important to retailers this year, given that Thanksgiving is falling a week later than last year, shortening the 5-week holiday season to 4-weeks.

Focus on BIG screens was very evident in 2019

  • With the exception of a plethora of 50” TVs available (due to very attractive panel prices in China), the vast majority of key TV promotions this year were for very large screen sizes, from 55” and larger.
  • Doorbuster items required either a ticket handed out in line before store opening (Best Buy) or an orderly queue within a designated department (Walmart).
  • Many shoppers still didn’t fully appreciate how big a 65” TV was before showing up to purchase, and therefore struggled figuring out how to take home their new TV in far too small a vehicle. This was compounded by the heavy rain, testing manufacturers packaging design.
  • While there were definitely shoppers purchasing 40” and 43” sets, very few were seen with 32” in their carts, a definite decline from previous years despite a continued <$100 price point


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