Black Friday sales drop

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Despite the usual attention given to the Black Friday shopping rush, sales of home electronics actually dropped for the first time, the NPD Group says. Where sales during Thanksgiving week have typically grown significantly year over year and topped out at $2.2 billion in 2007, these sales actually dropped about 8.4 percent in 2008 to just over $2 billion for this year. The softened sales numbers are believed to stem both from less aggressive overall discounts as well as the failures of high-profile retailers, such as Circuit City and home theater-oriented outlet Tweeter.

The poor economic situation triggered by the US housing crisis is partly blamed for the decline, though researchers at NPD explain the drop as part of a fundamental shift for retailers away from depending on a single day or week of sales and more on evenly distributed sales throughout the year.

Online sales are widely believed to still be contributing to a drop in retail sales, as many in-store discounts are now either matched online or else countered by competing offers. Despite economic concerns, Apple had equal online and retail discounts that were both unexceptional versus past years and which have been matched by previous discounts from Amazon and similar online shops.

NPD also notes that some very specific categories saw an increase on Thanksgiving week, such as a 19 percent boost to the number of notebooks sold as well as an 18 percent boost to LCD TVs 30 inches and larger. Other categories like digital photo frames, GPS and plasma TVs also technically saw larger sales but failed to generate as much money as steep discounts took much of the price advantage away.

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