Flat screens infest the aisles at Target

All those flat screens televisions sticking out of shopping carts in the aisles of Target stores early Friday morning were no optical illusion.

The retailer made a Black Friday value statement by featuring several models at extremely low prices and just minutes after the clock stuck midnight carts filled with flat screens were knifing through the gathering crowds at Target stores as well as other retailers. In Target’s case, it featured a 46-in. Westinghouse LCD for $298 on the cover of its circular and inside the cover it offered an Element brand 40-in. TV for $265. Shoppers looking for a better brand name and small screen size could opt for a 32-in. Samsung for $277. Compelling values on consumer electronics are typically a big traffic generator on Black Friday, but this year the difference make was the early opening hours.

Half of all consumer electronics buyers shopped the midnight doorbusters between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., a huge increase from the 13% who bought last year during that time period, according to Stephen Baker, a VP of industry analysis at NPD. More than 28% of the shopping trips by consumer electronics buyers occurred between Thanksgiving night and 3 a.m. on Friday, a significant increase over the 5 percent in 2010.

Baker noted that consumer electronics products had the largest gain in share of shoppers, of any major category on Black Friday increasing by nearly 5 points from 19.7 in 2010 to 24.4 in 2011. In addition, he said nearly 6% of all Black Friday shoppers walked out with a new TV, a 36% increase from 2010. Smartphones, video game systems and software, and tablets also were extremely popular as buyers increased by 85%, 35% and 34%, respectively.

“A confluence of factors have kept consumer electronics top of mind during Black Friday,” Baker said. “A combination of the Black Friday promotional period expanding, the continuing focus on electronics in advertising and sales messaging, and the popularity of the category in general have helped to make Black Friday the consumer electronics shopping holiday.”

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