Black Friday is about seven weeks away, but our attention is already turning to this annual shopping extravaganza. Once again we expect electronics—specifically TVs—to play a starring role in retail promotions.
While a lot of TV deals in the past were short-lived doorbuster specials on bare-bones models from lesser-known brands, recently we've seen major players step up with special deals of their own, sometimes for Black Friday "derivative" models you won't find at other times of the year. That means that on November 27 we're expecting to see some great deals on larger, better-featured televisions, too.
With that in mind, we're offering five predictions about what's to come for the 2015 holiday shopping season. We'll be ramping up our Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday shopping coverage across many electronics categories, so keep checking back for buying tips and information.
1. UHD TV Prices Will Hit New Lows
Prices for 4K UHD TVs have been dropping, but you'll still typically pay $1,500—and in some instances a lot more—for a full-featured 60- or 65-inch set from a major brand. On Black Friday 2015, we expect to see a few sets this size hovering near the $1,000 mark, and perhaps some doorbuster specials from secondary brands for as low as $800.
Prices for smaller sets will be even more aggressive. (Note that the benefits of the higher UHD TV resolution become less evident as screen sizes shrink, unless you'll be sitting very close.) We expect to see 49- and 50-inch UHD TVs from major brands for about $550, and sets from lesser-known brands for as low as $420. We expect 43-inch UHD sets from better-known brands to go for as little as $350.
2. Hottest Deals Will Be on 60- and 65-inch 1080p TVs
It wasn't so long ago that a 60-inch TV seemed gargantuan, but that's no longer the case. Last year we saw prices for 60-inch and larger 1080p sets drop significantly; Vizio's sub-$650 65-inch set was among the hottest Black Friday deals last year. This year we think you'll see prices from secondary brands fall to around $500, and some major brands will react with prices in the $600 to $700 range. But if you're looking for a smaller set, the most dramatic prices could be on 40-inch sets, which might go for as little as $100.
3. Price Matching Will Become More Common
Gone are the days when getting the best Black Friday deal meant poring over the circulars in the Sunday paper and bringing an ad into a store to see whether the retailer would match a competitor's price.
Today, more retailers are matching online and in-store pricing. Just two weeks ago Target announced that it would expand its in-store and online price-matching policy by adding 24 online competitors, including warehouse clubs. Last year, Walmart started matching the prices of about 30 online competitors, and Best Buy has been price matching with seven online retailers, including Amazon, for years. These are all part of what we believe will be a growing trend that can help you get the best deals.
Two things to consider, though. One, the item almost always has to be an exact match; one reason retailers like to get exclusive derivative models is that they can't be priced matched. Secondly, the product has to be in stock.
Oddly, price-matching policies aren't really used very much. Research we've seen shows that only 2 to 3 percent of shoppers take advantage of them. That could mean that the process is too onerous, or that shoppers should be more assertive if they want to get the best deals.
4. More Retailers Will Be Social-Media Savvy
More retailers have become social-media proficient, offering the best deals only to those who follow them on Facebook and Twitter, get their Pinterest and Instagram feeds, or sign up for text and email alerts. Some retailers might use the geolocation feature in your cell phone to alert you to special deals when they know you're in one of their stores, nearby, or even at a competitor's location. So make sure you're following your favorite retailers on social media and have signed up to get alerts well in advance of Black Friday.
5. Pricing Will Become More Transparent
Since much of the Black Friday activity is all about prices, consumers will increasingly leverage all the options at their disposal to make sure they get the best deal. That will make the differences in pricing more transparent.
According to Chicago-based research firm Market Track, 85 percent of all shoppers this year will research prices online and then buy in stores, a marked increase from last year. Electronics will be the most heavily compared products online. But the survey revealed another statistic that might be a bit deflating to brick-and-mortar stores: 84 percent of shoppers plan to shop on Amazon.com, citing low prices as their reason.
Noting that each year the differences between in-store and online prices have narrowed, Market Track also says that retailers are shifting their messaging from one that focuses strictly on price to one that stresses convenience. That means they will be emphasizing services such as order online/pick up in store, faster delivery of online orders, and free shipping on out-of-stock merchandise.
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