Tag Archives | Black Friday

Yes Microsofties, Apple In-Store Sales May Be Down, But…

Microsofties could barely contain their glee when this video made the rounds of the Internet over the weekend. As you can see, it shows a tale of two stores: the Mission Viejo Apple store practically barren while the Microsoft Store in that mall (yes, the one with the dancing employees) is buzzing with activity.

Some of us probably brushed this off as an isolated incident, as Apple really does not have a blockbuster product this holiday season to draw the crazed Black Friday masses in. But according to Piper Jaffray Apple analyst Gene Munster, his research is showing that slowness at Apple Stores may have actually been the norm.

About 8.3 Macs per hour were sold at retail that day at stores visited by Munster’s team, well down from the 13 per hour rate last year. However, it would be fair to note that Best Buy’s Apple “store-within-a-store” has expanded significantly and a few more Apple Stores have opened since last year.

(Some of Apple’s partners were also offering much better discounts on Apple products than the company was, too…)

Before Redmond starts dancing in the streets, take this into account. Analysis of Apple’s online store performance shows 39 percent year over year growth in sales. This outperformed the entire e-commerce sector by three times. Munster says that this online jump should be more than enough to offset any losses at retail.


Uh Oh, It’s Almost Black Friday

I like shopping for gadgets as much as the next technonerd–more so, probably–but I don’t plan to rush out to the mall on Black Friday. I like to do my splurging on my own schedule, thank you very much. Besides, I’m too young to be crushed to death by a stampede of wild-eyed, shopping cart-wielding consumers. (I’m also planning to skip Black Friday’s Web-based counterpart, Cyber Monday–even if it’s safer.)

But I did have fun thinking about both landmark shopping days as I wrote the first piece I’ve done for WePC.com in awhile. This one’s called “A Smart Skeptic’s Guide to PC Deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Beyond,” and is my attempt to summarize much of the advice I give friends and relatives who are shopping for computers during the holiday season. Take a look, share any tips of your own, then poke around WePC a bit–there’s lots of cool stuff there, including the opportunity to win free computers.

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Microsoft’s Black Friday Black Eye

cashbackIf Microsoft wants to become a serious Web competitor to Google it should stop tripping over its own feet. On Black Friday, it was offering more apologies than bargains after embarrassing technical glitches incapacitated the company’s Live Search Cashback, scuttling its initiative to gain a larger share of the search market by giving searchers discounts on products they find through Live Search.

Apparently, someone in Redmond neglected to remember that Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. The Cashback site was unable to cope with the heavy volume, and some customers–ones that were able to access the site at all, that is–were left with the wrong amount of cash back credited to their accounts.

One of the biggest snafus occurred when customers that were trying to take advantage of a generous 40 percent discount on HP products received as little as 3 percent cash back posted to their account, according to News.com, which also reported that Microsoft apoligized to shoppers who encountered Cashback glitches . A spokesperson told Technologizer that customers interested in following up on their Cashback rebate should contract Microsoft Live Search support to have their accounts credited.

The company’s initiative to compensate people for using its search engine began in May. Since that time, Microsoft’s share of the search business has fallen, according to multiple surveys. That’s not to say that the Live Search Cashback program is a bad idea–Microsoft is an underdog, and it needs to be creative and scrappy.

However, it had an opportunity to benefit from word of mouth had its Black Friday promotion gone well, and its failure to execute has left it at best no better off than it would have been on any given Friday.

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comScore: Black Friday Online Sales Up 1%

The US’s biggest retail shopping day of the year turned out fine after all, although the results were likely nowhere near as good as investors would have liked. While data shows brick-and-mortar retail sales were up 3 percent, online sales rose only 1 percent.

comScore says that $534 million was spent by consumers online on Friday, likely attracted by better-than-normal deals being offered by desperate retailers. There was some crazy deals: the Epson store offered its R280 photo printer for $29.99, a $70 savings.

Traditionally, heavier online shopping comes today, known as “Cyber Monday.” This is basically due to the fact that as people return to work, they use their downtime to further complete their holiday shopping. It has also been perpetuated by online retailers, which have begun to offer special deals just for the day.

Looking around, there’s not as many deals this year, although Best Buy has its own special page as does competitor Circuit City. comScore says to watch the growth for Cyber Monday: typically it has come within a few percentage points of the overall holiday season growth for online shopping.

If comScore is right, expect that number to be flat. The firm says it sees no growth year-over-year for online shopping.

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Black Friday Turns Ugly. Genuinely Ugly.

Okay, I had some fun with my distaste for Black Friday earlier today, but this is serious stuff. A Wal-Mart employee was knocked to the floor by maniacal shoppers and killed today at a store on Long Island, in a riot that sent four other people (including a pregnant woman) to the hospital. (The crowd supposedly got even uglier when told that the store was going to shut down after the staffer’s death.) And two people were reportedly shot dead at a Toys “R” Us in Palm Desert, California, in an incident thay may or may not have been gang-related.

Can we all agree that there’s no discount on a 52-inch TV or a GPS device that is worth a single human life, or even the real risk of the loss of a single human life? And that American’s retailers should be damn careful about intentionally whipping teeming crowds of people into a frenzy?

Comparatively uninmportant side note: Sears.com crashed today, presumably under the weight of Black Friday traffic. It was down for about two hours.

Report on my day: I spent much of it bumming around bookstores in Northern California’s Sonoma county, getting a head start on my Christmas shopping. Got some good deals, too. I saw no angry crowds, didn’t have to engage in any fistfights, and don’t even remember standing in line for more than a couple of minutes…


30 Reasons I Choose to Ignore Black Friday


Today, in case you hadn’t noticed, is Black Friday–America’s legendary shopping-day-of-all-shopping-days. The sales are unprecedented, the shopping hours are extended, and hey, it might even help nurse our battered economy back to health. But me, I may get through the day without buying anything more costly than a Diet Coke. I love saving money on gizmos and gadgets as much as the next technophile, but I’ve never found Black Friday alluring–in fact, I take a great deal of pleasure in ignoring it.

How come? Lots of reasons, actually–all of which you’ll find after the jump.

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PriceGrabber Survey Shows Grim Reality of Faltering Economy

While PriceGrabber is known more for its comparison shopping service, from time to time it conducts surveys of its user base to gauge consumer trends. It’s most recent survey took a look at consumer’s holiday shopping habits, and the results are not pretty.

71 percent of online consumers plan to spend less during the holiday, citing inflation and the worsening economy as reasons for doing so. Two-thirds plan to give “practical” gifts, which include cash, gas cards, money, and other necessities.

Only 13 percent seem unfazed, saying they are not changing their spending habits as a result of economic conditions. A quarter are not changing their spending habits but attempting to save money when possible, and the remainder are making a concerted effort to pull back.

Some of the techniques most commonly used are sticking to a budget (53 percent), shopping at discount/outlet stores (43 percent — Walmart stock anyone?), and using shopping comparison websites (37 percent).

Many are staying home to shop: 55 percent expect to do a majority of their holiday purchasing online, up 10 percent from last year.

All this likely means less money will be spent on those big ticket high-tech gifts: HDTVs, Blu-ray players, DVRs, and so forth. That is not good news for the tech sector — which up until recently was actually fairing well when compared to other industries.

I know I have been beating the drum for the bears of Wall Street a lot here lately. However, in an increasingly technology-hungry society, a significant downturn will have significant effects for tech. In the last significant recession back in the early 1990s, the industry was still in its infancy. Now, we’ve got our eggs in a lot more baskets, and a lot more prone to the vagaries of the economy.

(Note: the PriceGrabber survey was taken October 20 to November 10, and surveyed 2,641 respondents through an online survey. It has a margin of error of 2%.)


Not-So-Black-Friday Preview: Circuit City

circuitcitylogoOkay I’ll admit out of all the retailers that we’ve profiled so far for Black Friday, I was looking forward to Circuit City’s offerings the most. This is a company that is in some serious, serious trouble.

As Harry has covered so well over the past few weeks, the major electronics retailer has filed for bankruptcy, and that it was closing 115 of its locations.

Black Friday would seemingly not be the best thing for a company that’s trying to dig itself out of a hole. But, suprisingly enough, Circuit City’s offerings (or at least the presentation of them) seem to be one of the more aggressive.

Four HDTVs would be available: An Element 18.5″ 720p for $199.99, an Toshiba 32″ LCD for $449.99, ans two Samsungs: a 42″ 720p plasma for 699.99, and a 46″ 1080p for $1099.99.

Things that caught our eye: The Xbox 360 bundles. The Arcade bundle for $199 includes a game, wireless controller, and refurbished 20GB HDD, for $100 more you can step up to the 60GB HDD, an additional free game, and a $30 gift card.

At least 60 CD and DVD titles would be priced at $2.99, and about 200 more would be priced at $3.99. Like other retailers it would offer the standard $399 laptop.

Here’s the ad scan courtesy of blackfriday.info.

See our other Black Friday tech deal coverage by clicking here.


Not-So-Black Friday Preview: Wal-Mart

Wal Mart logoOkay, so Best Buy didn’t exactly thrill us with its “doorbusters” and supposed Black Friday specials. So, will the mecca of American retail capitalism be able to do any better? From the looks of it, not really.

According to a copy of a circular obtained by CNNMoney.com, here are the specials — and they look pretty much like the standard fare. What stands out to us is the Samsung 50-inch plasma HDTV for $798, a hundred bucks cheaper than Best Buy (probably the same model, too!).

Other items that may or may not get you moving after all that turducken:

  • Xbox 360 package for $199, includes Guitar Hero III and wireless guitar;
  • A Magnavox Blu-ray player for $128 (this is already on sale for $198);
  • and an HP Pavilion desktop computer for $398.

Standard fare on DVD and CD specials and whatnot, We don’t have the ad, and don’t expect to — Walmart is pretty quick to send out cease and desists to those that dare leak its Black Friday ads. But there you go, sorry it isn’t more exciting.

See our other Black Friday tech deal coverage by clicking here.

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Not-So-Black Friday Preview: Best Buy

bestbuylogoLooking for tech deals on Black Friday (which can you believe it is only two weeks away)? Technologizer will comb through all the announced deals to let you know where you should be freezing your you-know-what off on that oh so special day.

Our first stop on our journey is our friends at Best Buy. Now mind you, this is the company that said there was a “rapid, seismic drop” in its sales and called the current retail environment “the most difficult climate we’ve ever seen.” So, don’t be surprised when the leaked details of its sales are nowhere near what they have been in years past.

Among the deals we’re seeing are a 80GB PS3 with Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction and the Blu-ray title Casino Royale for $399.99 (basically, you’re getting a game and movie you’d probably not buy on your own for free), a Panasonic Viera 50″ Plasma for $899.99 (I’m guessing it is a discontinued set cause the model numbers don’t match the currently available 50″ Viera through the retailer, nor is it available through Amazon), and a Toshiba laptop for $379.99.

Nothing really crazy here, but the discounts on items don’t seem to be as great as they were in past years. You have your typical deals on CDs and DVDs, your standard discounts on video cameras, HDTVs, and peripherals, but the true deep discounted stuff is few and far between here.

Hat tip to blackfday.com for the ad, which can be seen here.

See our other Black Friday tech deal coverage by clicking here.