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Black Friday shoppers go for the small stuff

Popular gifts range from GPS to winter clothes

By TracyC Nov 30, 2009 1:52PM

More shoppers headed out to the malls and onto the Web this year for Black Friday shopping, but once there, they didn’t exactly load up their carts.


The National Retail Federation estimated that 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million the year before, but spending dropped 7.9% to $343.31 per person from $372.57 in 2008.


Some of the drop can be attributed to shoppers focusing on smaller-ticket electronics such as cell phones, rather than computers and huge flat screens, and more practical gifts such as toys, winter clothes and small appliances.


GPS systems and the iPod Touch were the two most sought-after items by online shoppers, according to price comparison engine PriceGrabber,com.

If shoppers did spend big bucks, they were buying large appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, cook tops and dishwashers. Sears’ site was the 5th most trafficked domain on the Web. However, and were the big winners in online traffic, according to analytics firm comScore.


Some of the spending drop can also be chalked up to price cuts on not-so-new technology, according to

  • MP3 players dropped 33% this year to $88 from $132.
  • Blu-ray players dropped 32% to $149 from $219.
  • Laptops dropped 33% to $464 from $696.
  • Plasma and LCD TVs dropped 26% to $963 from $1,296.
  • GPS devices dropped 20% to $167from $208.

"Things that were new and different in the last couple of years are now dropping to reasonable price points," says Laura Conrad, president of PriceGrabber.


Shoppers were so hungry for bargains that many hot sale items, such as Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters or Rocky the Robot Truck, were sold out, leaving no stock for Cyber Monday sales, according to some deal sites.


So does that mean Cyber Monday will be a dud this year? Maybe, if you’re looking for those sold-out toys. But if this past weekend was any indication, experts say, retailers will have to keep rolling out the big bargains or risk shoppers cutting their lists short this year.


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