It’s nearly mid-November, and that means we’re getting close to opening day. (And I don’t mean hunting season!)
No, it’s almost time for that annual exercise in wanton, profligate consumer spending known as the “holiday selling season”. Ostensibly, everyone will burst out of the starting gate on Black Friday, which falls on November 24th. But there are already signs that some retailers and manufacturers have jumped the gun.
This past weekend, Boscov’s - a major department store chain in eastern Pennsylvania - was advertising Panasonic’s 42-inch TH-42PD60 EDTV plasma for $1,099.99 as part of a two-day Veteran’s Day Sale. This was not a “quantities limited” offer - it was a firm advertised price for all Boscov’s stores.
Down the road, CompUSA went one better with a Veteran’s Day blowout that featured Panasonic’s 50-inch TH-50PX60U plasma HDTV for $2,299.99, offering a $700 instant savings deal that included a 10%-off coupon. Sony 40-inch and 32-inch Bravia LCD HDTVs were also available for discounted prices of $1,599.99 and $999.99, respectively, while a Syntax Olevia 37-inch LCD HDTV tagged along at $899.99.
The Boscov’s offer was significant because it represented the lowest MAP to date for a 42-inch plasma from a mainstream PDP manufacturer, and almost guarantees that we’re going to see $999 42-inch PDPs shortly after Black Friday.
CompUSA’s deal drops the price floor for 50-inch integrated HDTVs by almost 25% - an aggressive market move you’d expect from Samsung, not Panasonic. The previous low price for a 50-inch plasma monitor (not integrated HDTV) was Vizio’s P50HDM, which had been selling previously through wholesale clubs for $1,999.
Sears has also gotten into the pre-Christmas aggressive discount act, although it seems they’re not exactly sure what it is they’re selling. In their Sunday (11/12) flier, I found a “Toshiba 56-in. TheaterWide Integrated DLP LCD TV” with 720p resolution for $1674.99, after $225 savings, as well as a “Hitachi 50-in. micro projection TV” for $1529.99 after $170 instant savings. (The first product appears to be a new hybrid technology that Insight Media needs to investigate further, while the latter product must be very, very small.)
To top things off, Optoma showed their new HD70 DLP projector at the CES Preview last week. It uses a .62″ 1280×720 DarkChip2 device, cranks out 1000 lumens, and will retail for an estimated street price of (ready?) $999.
While it’s clear that Optoma feels they can make hay in the 720p home projector channel with the HD70, it’s not so clear whose marching orders led to the big Panasonic, Sony, and Toshiba discounts. Is Panasonic feeling the heat from 46-inch and 47-inch LCDs? Has Sony finally folded against the pressure from the rest of the LCD HDTV market? Will Toshiba become the next big bargain brand?
And exactly what effect does a $2300, “Big 5″ 50-inch plasma HDTV have on sales of 50- and 52-inch 720p MD RPTVs? How long will it take for Best Buy and Circuit City to match CompUSA’s price? Best Buy’s 11/12 flier shows that same Panasonic 50-incher for $2699, after instant savings. Ditto Circuit City, which also features second-tier Vizio’s P50HDTV10A 50-inch integrated plasma TV for $1799.99.
If it’s already this crazy before Black Friday, I can hardly wait for the post-season inventory clearances.