Even Apple, which is typically bargain challenged, is buckling to the economic slowdown that has sent consumer confidence to the cellar. The company hasn't revealed its plans for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that launches the holiday shopping season, but has posted a teaser on its Web site for a "special one-day-only holiday shopping event."
Apple resellers are usually the place to go for the biggest discounts on MacBooks and iMacs. However, this year could see Apple stores working harder to make sales. According to AppleInsider, Apple has told store management to match discounts from authorized resellers. In addition, the news site on Wednesday said investment firm Kaufman Bros. is predicting Apple on Black Friday could offer as much as a 15% discount on Macs, iPods, and accessories. Such discounts would be unprecedented for the company.
In the meantime, Best Buy and MacMall are trying to entice buyers now. MacMall on Wednesday launched a three-day Black Friday sale that runs through 11:59 p.m. Nov. 28. Discounts on new systems are as much as $250, with even bigger price cuts on older models. For example, the company is selling an older model of the MacBook Air for $1,150, which is $644 less than the original price. The company is offering similar price cuts on previous-generation MacBook Pros.
Best Buy, on the other hand, is offering discounts up to $150 on new Macs. Most items are available now online. Best Buy is offering instant discounts on its sales items, while MacMall's bargains are a combination of instant discount and mail-in rebate. A list of discounted new systems from both vendors has been compiled by the MacRumor blog.
Apple resellers aren't the only retailers jumping the gun on Black Friday sales. Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Target also have launched early sales on a variety of items.
Observers say retailers are anxious to lower inventories that have been piling up during the economic downturn. Retail e-commerce sales in October were the slowest since at least 2001, increasing only 1% over the same month in 2007, according to Web-metrics firm ComScore. October represented the sixth consecutive month this year of slowing growth rates.
Many consumers, on the other hand, are expected to hold off on buying big-ticket consumer electronics items. Those planning to take the plunge are most likely to look for deals on specific products, according to the NPD Group.