Black Friday Tech Sales Tumble in 2008

Dennis Faas's picture

Despite the popularity of Blu-ray players, iPhones, iPods, and games like Rock Band 2 and LittleBigPlanet, the tech industry has not been impervious to the slings and arrows of a declining U.S. economy. According to a recent report, even Black Friday tech sales were down this year.

Business trackers NPD have released figures for this year's Black Friday score, and results for the technology industry are not good. This year, consumers spent just over $2 billion on electronics at retail outlets, down significantly from last year's $2.21 billion mark. Although the number of sales online seems to have risen (a paltry 1 per cent), the actual dollar amount appears to be down, by as much as $534 million.

Part of the problem is that technology companies, and retailers, were hesitant to offer big promotions this year. According to NPD's vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker, "Promos weren't as good, outside of TVs, simply because better pricing would not have brought out more customers."

It seems that tech producers and retailers simply didn't expect much from a North American work force that faces news of plant closures and deficit increases daily as of late. "If [people] have no money, you can't make prices cheap enough to get people to buy," Baker added. (Source:

In a survey conducted last month, NPD found that most consumers were, in fact, in "no rush to spend." Fears of the economy have now spread through just about every American consumer, and the traditional holiday pressure to buy, buy, buy is only making them more anxious about investing in new tech toys this Christmas.

Despite the obvious impact of the worsening economy, NPD speculate that there may be other reasons for the decline in super-bargains this Black Friday. As more and more consumers move online (for proof, just look to Circuit City's impending bankruptcy), the nature of holiday shopping has changed.

Many online retailers offer continual sales, rather than the old brick-and-mortar door-crasher trick where consumers are guided into the store in hopes of finding a, say, drastically reduced Mp3 player only to find it sold out. Retailers in the past simply hoped that the same shopper would keep browsing and buy something at full price.

Despite the 8 per cent drop in overall sales compared to last year, some tech toys actually showed an upswing in popularity. LCD televisions over thirty inches felt increases of 18 per cent in units and 9 per cent in dollars. Notebook PCs showed similar growth, up 19 per cent as a category with a revenue bump of 8 per cent. (Source:

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