In the face of rising tuition costs for the winter quarter, UC Davis students can at least look forward to an unprecedented drop in electronics prices this season.
Electronics companies are gearing up for the holidays after a year’s worth of recessionary troubles, yielding record low prices on the eve of the largest commercial holiday in the western world.
The Wall Street Journal reported data from the sales research firm NPD Group that illustrates the drastic drops in prices for various consumer electronics this year compared to last year.
According to the NPD data, flat-panel TVs demonstrate the largest price disparity, having dropped from an average of $900 in Aug. 2008 to a significantly lower average of $630 in Aug. 2009. Windows Vista and XP-powered notebook prices have also taken a nosedive to low prices, down from an average price of $689 last year to $572 this year.
Even Walmart’s one-day Nov. 7 sale advertised a 46-inch Panasonic plasma HDTV that normally retails for $1,099.95 on Panasonic’s official online store but sold for the in-store price of $788.
Bryan Chair, sales manager of the Sacramento Best Buy on Arden Way, commented on products that have seen the deepest price cuts.
“The most substantial price drops we’ve seen have been in flat-panel TVs, game systems, notebooks and netbooks,” Chair said.
For one UC Davis student, game system price reductions are a definite attraction.
Senior microbiology major Jason Tien bought a Wii game console with the recent $50 decrease in price.
“I think the price drop put us over the edge because my sister wanted to buy a Wii Fit [game], so the extra $50 dollars we saved on the console were put toward the game,” Tien said.
For Davis movie-buffs, both Target and Best Buy offer Blu-ray disc players that run for approximately $150 rather than the standard $200 price point. Blu-ray movies have not budged from their status-quo $30, however, at least at Best Buy.
UC Davis students without access to a more expeditious means of transportation to travel to these larger electronics outlets will have a tougher time gaining access to the cut-rate prices: the downward sales trends have not impacted electronics prices at the campus bookstore or the local Radioshack.
“Our prices have been relatively stable,” said UC Davis bookstore employee Kristin Yang, a junior animal science major.
Andrew Forrest, a sales associate at the Radioshack on G Street, had a similar answer.
“I haven’t seen any price reductions,” said Forrest.
He said prices may decline as December comes closer.
Some believe price declines and temporary deals are an effort to clear stock for incoming shipments of new product, and electronics companies are slashing prices in panic over the threat of the flailing economy.
UC Davis assistant professor of management Ashwin Aravindakshan at the Graduate School of Management offered an explanation.
“I think it’s less to do with panic and more to capture the customer who is slowly starting to spend again,” Aravindakshan said in an email interview. “Due to lower demand in a recessionary economy, the prices are driven lower. As consumers are not buying, retailers are enticing them with incentives.”
Bo Ericsson, former Vice President of Marketing for storage-media company Sandisk Corporation, had views that converged with Aravindakshan’s, but also provided a different explanation.
“They have to produce low pricing to keep these factories generating revenue,” Ericsson said. “If you don’t produce anything in the factory, you run into negative financials. Corporations reduce pricing to keep the manufacturing plant full.”
Whatever the case, holiday shopping for electronics will be far less taxing to the wallet this year. For those who want even better deals, there may be another option yet. To negate the effects of rising tuition costs, many look to the near-religious celebration of Black Friday on Nov. 27, where nationwide consumer electronics clearances and pricing deals border on ethereal.
YARA ELMJOUIE can be reached at email@example.com.