4K TVs, Game Consoles Top Black Friday Tech Sales

Deep discounts on 4K TVs, special bundles on gaming consoles, and heavy promotions for new virtual reality headsets helped all three tech categories perform well over the Black Friday shopping weekend, according to multiple industry sources.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) late Nov. 27 reported that TVs ran away with the No. 1 slot for tech purchases for the four-day weekend, followed by tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles. While specific numbers have yet to be released, retailer Target alone reported more than 3,200 TVs were sold each minute during its first hour of Black Friday sales. The CTA had previously predicted that as many as 4.5 million 4K Ultra High-Def (UHD) TVs would ship this holiday season.

Walmart—the nation’s No. 1 retailer—listed TVs as its No. 1 selling product in the electronics category as well.

“While perennial Black Friday tech strongholds such as televisions, videogame consoles and laptops dominated shoppers’ baskets, it was also a breakout year for emerging tech,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for CTA, in a statement. “These nascent devices, including digital assistant devices, virtual reality and drones, landed on the front page of retailer’s Black Friday ads… for the first time this year.”

Adobe Digital Insights—the research arm of the software company—reported that on Black Friday alone, retailers enjoyed $3.34 billion in online sales—up 21.6% year over year—with Samsung 4K TVs, LG TVs and the Xbox One gaming system enjoying three of the top five grossing spots in the electronics category. Adobe reported that the PlayStation VR was among the first electronics products that ran out of stock among most retailers.

The TV category as a whole saw sets discounted an average of 22.5%, second only to tablets, Adobe reported. “Appliances and TVs launched in 2016 were also seeing higher discounts than comparable products last year (4.2% and 5.8%, respectively), as well as video game consoles (3.8%),” the company said in a statement.

Verizon Enterprise Solutions reported that online sales proved huge, with the average daily e-commerce traffic volume of consumers to U.S.-based retailers on Black Friday up 9% year over year. Peak e-commerce volume was up 39% year over year.

"High consumer confidence paired with attractive Black Friday specials have created an irresistible combo for shoppers," said Michele Dupré, group VP for retail, distribution and hospitality for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "The challenge in the fierce race for wallet share will be to double down and create a perception of value that will entice new customers while rewarding loyal customers."

The CTA backed that up, pointing to a record number of online—especially mobile—shoppers: of the 135.9 million American adults who shopped or planned to shop over the entire 2016 Black Friday week, 57% shopped online and 35% of those used a mobile device (up 7% from 2015).

“The 2016 holiday shopping season is the tipping point for mobile shopping,” CTA’s DuBravac said. “Consumers are shifting increasingly to mobile shopping, due to higher ownership rates of mobile devices and increasing ease, comfort and convenience.”