As we reported last week, the 2009 holiday shopping season is shaping up a bit differently. Pundits are predicting that people will shop early and shop cautiously -- and at least according to early Nielsen forecasts, shoppers won't be spending any more than last year. Furthermore, 2008's last-minute deep discounts will be replaced by broader and less dramatic price drops.
So where will the deals be this year? We're not fortune tellers, but here are some educated guesses.
DealNews.com has offered up its predictions for the lowest prices we can expect to see for Black Friday and the weeks that follow. (Editors say they were 82 percent accurate with their 2008 predictions.) A few sample picks:
What's our take? Carl Laron, ConsumerSearch.com's senior electronics editor says that while some stores might offer a middle-of-the-night door-buster Blu-ray player for $50, typical entry-level Blu-ray players will hover in the $100 range.
As for TVs, we're already seeing 42-inch off-brand (Viore anyone?) and store-brand (like Best Buy's Insignia badge) 1080p LCD TVs going for $550 and $600, so a 46-incher for $600 seems likely to us. Look for Sears and Walmart to go head-to-head on cheap TVs; that's what happened last year. There might also be some great deals in the 26- to 32-inch size range, which are outselling big-screen TVs 3:2 right now (according to a Retrevo Pulse study). Today, you can get a no-name 32-incher for $350. Black Friday might bring prices down to $250, and 32-inches is a good size for a bedroom or kitchen TV.
As for GPS, we routinely saw basic GPS units selling for $99 last year. We might see a Garmin nuvi 205 or the TomTom One -- both older units -- clearing out for $70, and maybe a 5:00 a.m. doorbuster deal for $50.
Netbooks look to be popular gifts again this year, and we could see a very low-end 8-incher for $150 or so. But be cautious in general when buying a netbook. While they're great for word processing and checking your email, netbooks are underpowered for games, movies and video.
Stay tuned: ConsumerSearch and Productopia will be clued-in to holiday deals (or not-so-great deals) all season.