Putting Back the Black in Black Friday

August 20, 2009
By: Damon Darlin
The New York Times

Black Friday sales, those free-for-alls on the day after Thanksgiving, are going to be a lot less enticing this year, predict Sony executives.

You might think that is wishful thinking for a company thinking about how a deeply discounted Vizio TV at Wal-Mart can wreak havoc on holiday sales numbers. It seems like hope over human nature, but hear them out.

Michael Fasulo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Sony Electronics in the United States, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about how Sony will fare in the all-important year-end shopping season. “Half of all retailers we spoke to predict it will be better than last year,” he said.

He said he doesn’t expect retailers will slash prices as much in pre-Christmas sales because he thinks the “value is available now. In most years you didn’t see it in the summer.” In other words, retailers have cut prices sharply already to lure recession-weary consumers into their stores. The retailers don’t want to take any further hits to their profits by slashing further on Black Friday.

That assumes that come November, retailers won’t try to gain an advantage over a competitor by cutting prices. It also assumes consumers are flocking back to stores.(They aren’t.). It also assumes consumers will make the same calculations and conclude prices won’t drop in November as they have every year recently.

What’s your take on this? Do you expect you’ll be spending more than you did last holiday season, which, if you recall, was not a very happy one for retailers? Do you expect retailers will drop prices sharply?