Best Buy and blenders get shiny bows while Target and Black Friday earn coals in a topsy-turvy holiday shopping season.
From the get-go, the 2013 holiday shopping season bore signs of the unpredictable.
For one thing, there was one less week to shop, thanks to Thanksgiving, the traditional start to the season, falling on the last week of November (and on the same day as Hanukkah). Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft were both releasing their first next-generation video game consoles in seven years, thereby guaranteeing out-of-stock signs at electronics retailers across the country. Best Buy and Target were also experimenting with new ways of filling online orders with merchandise on store shelves.
But things soon got even stranger. Just a few days before Christmas, Target confirmed a massive security breach in which thieves stole credit and debit card information from 40 million customers. In response, the Minneapolis-based retailer offered a 10 percent discount on all items the following weekend.
And then UPS and FedEx’s promises to deliver packages by Christmas turned out to be empty promises to some consumers.
So in the spirit of this recap, the Star Tribune offers its list of five holiday winners and losers.
We guarantee delivery by New Year’s Day.
The numbers are not in yet, but analysts expect strong sales from the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer. The company was aggressive from the start, matching prices and promotions with competitors like Wal-Mart and Amazon. Best Buy is also sure to benefit from the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
The retailers keep opening earlier on Thanksgiving, and shoppers have continued to show up. Best Buy and Wal-Mart led the way with 6 p.m. openings, barely enough time for consumers to digest turkey, let alone the stuffing.
Sony and Microsoft
The seven-year wait was apparently worth it. Microsoft and Sony have so far sold more than 4 million consoles around the world. Based on those figures, market research firm IDC predicts that retailers will sell 42 million consoles in 2014, a 17 percent gain from the previous years. And from 2015 to 2017, that number will hover between 42 million and 46 million consoles a year.
2013 will likely be remembered the year that smartphones and tablets fully morphed from pure research tools into pure buying devices. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates holiday sales through mobile devices totaled $8.4 billion, or 14.8 percent of total online sales, compared to $1 billion, or 3 percent of total online sales, in 2010.