CE Surprises of Holiday 2009

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) hosted a webcast this afternoon with a recap on Black Friday CE spending. There was too much juicy data to report in one post, so for now I thought I’d relate some of the surprises from the holiday weekend. As far as overall spending is concerned, the consensus seems to be that Black Friday shopping was up in 2008 over 2007. Check out recent reports from ShopperTrak and the National Retail Federation.

Smaller TVs
I was surprised to hear a rep at the Sony Style store say that smaller HDTVs in the 32″ range were flying off the shelves last Friday. But according to the CEA, the sweet spot for TVs right now is actually even smaller at 21″-23″. At the beginning of this year, TV sets over 40″ made up more than half of TV shipments. Now they represent only 36%. Again, the only thing I can assume here is that folks are buying for second and third rooms.

Cheaper Blu-ray Players
Just six weeks ago the experts at the CEA didn’t expect to see prices for Blu-ray players drop below $250. Black Friday weekend proved them wrong, with players dipping below the $200 mark. The price drop did wonders for volume sales. The category is now expected to slightly surpass the CEA’s forecast of 2.75 million unit shipments in 2008.

GPS is a Surprise Hit
A CEA survey in September found that GPS devices didn’t even make the top-ten list of planned CE gifts. However, by the time Black Friday rolled around, GPS units generated the highest interest from in-store CE shoppers, above MP3 players, TVs and digital cameras. The CEA says the GPS category is shaping up to be one of the hottest of Holiday 2009. That conclusion is somewhat undermined by the fact that a CEA survey shows only 9% of Black Friday shoppers who bought consumer electronics picked up GPS devices. However, given the aggressive pricing right now, we’ll probably see GPS sales continue to increase through the holiday season.

6 thoughts on “CE Surprises of Holiday 2009”

  1. For probably the third year in a row, people are still asking me GPS buying advice. Despite the analysts who say the PND market is in decline, I think the space is still healthy. FYI I’m recommending the TomTom 125 on the low-end ($100-$125) and a bit higher up the food chain I like the Garmin Nuvi 265WT for about $250-$300 with widescreen, spoken street names, and free traffic data if you can tolerate a few tiny banner ads and offers presented when the car isn’t in motion.

    Telenav ($10/mo) for phones is also a future-proofed solution if you have good speaker phone volume and a way to keep the cell from flying around the car. Though it’s not so easy to gift service these days. (They used to offer gift cards at Best Buy.)

  2. My extended family picked up a few of the less expensive Garmin Nuvi’s this past weekend for gifts. I still don’t own my own GPS and not sure I need one (why would I when I know my wife will ask for directions right?).

    My dad asked me about Blu-ray on Thanksgiving as well. I gave him a few tips and in the end he decided to wait even with the prices dropping – just wasn’t a priority at the moment when he already owns so many DVDs and considers the PQ excellent on those already ;)

    I’m really surprised about the smaller TVs though. Wonder if it’s people switching to HDTV, but going cheaper due to the credit crunch…

  3. I grabbed a BDP-S350 for $179 on Black Friday and I love it…now if only the movie prices would start to fall.

    Hmm, Dave…I noticed you didn’t reccomend a Dash Express GPS, even though they’re still on sale at Amazon………

  4. I wonder if part of the unexpected demand for smaller TVs is driven by people wanting to upgrade their secondary TVs before the digital transition hits. I realize that folks who have cable won’t be forced to upgrade, but maybe people are looking at the ads and saying “what the h***”.


  5. Random Rage, I didn’t realize the hardware was still available. I’d been informed sales would cease immediately following the new direction announcement (and layoffs).

    Regarding small TVs, it’s probably a variety of things… older customers, additional sets, folks not as attached to video entertainment, penny pinching given the economic conditions, etc. I imagine most TV junkies and sports fans already have a large primary set…

  6. I think part of the “smaller” Tv’s has been the price. I bought a 26″ for my bedroom the old TV was dying a slow death and it made sense. I would imagine a lot of people are looking at the smaller ones for bedrooms, workout rooms, kids rooms etc. As for BluRay I thought about it but just not sure if I justify that money just yet. I will keep waiting for the price to come down.

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