Ahead of Black Friday, HDTVs Lead the Way: Survey

High-definition TV sets are expected to top the wish lists of consumers looking to cash in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. According to Retrevo’s Gadgetology survey, 30 percent of consumers shopping over the weekend want a new HDTV set, compared to 22 percent that are looking to purchase a new computer and just 14 percent that want a new Blu-ray player.

The competition for HDTV buyers is expected to be intense, with Wal-mart (s WMT), Best Buy (s BBY), Target (s TGT) and other brick-and-mortar retailers slashing prices and offering “door-buster” deals to get consumers in their stores over the weekend. Online retailers like Amazon.com (s AMZN) are being equally as aggressive, with some holiday weekend deals already available.

So what are consumers looking for in their new HDTVs? According to Andrew Eisner, Retrevo’s director of community and content, most new HDTV buyers are being spurred by the digital TV transition to replace their old CRT sets. As a result, there’s been a noticeable shift in consumer buying behavior and retailer pricing for medium-sized TVs vs. large TVs. Whereas last year, consumer interest in HDTVs smaller than 37 inches was about even with those that were bigger, Eisner says that this year consumers are looking at small or medium-sized sets at about a 3:2 ratio.

That’s partly due to attractive pricing on the retailer side. Many retailers are using the holiday weekend to clear out inventory of older, smaller 720p HDTVs. Target, for instance, is offering a 32-inch Westinghouse HDTV at 720p for $246. It’s an entry-level price for an entry-level set, but it’s sure to stir interest from consumers looking for a good deal.

It’s also partly due to budget constraints in a down economy. “We believe that 30 percent of consumers will buy TVs this season, and a big percentage of those are buying on Black Friday and will spend about $1,000. So we conclude that a lot of people will be buying medium-sized TVs for that price,” Eisner said.

While HDTV demand is expected to be robust this holiday season, Retrevo doesn’t see much interest among consumers for Blu-ray players or gaming consoles. Only 14 percent expect to buy a new Blu-ray player over the weekend, and about 10 percent are shopping for a new game console.