Korea may lose out on Black Friday

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Korea may lose out on Black Friday

For Black Friday, Korean companies like Samsung and LG Electronics have high hopes that their sales will soar during the biggest shopping day in North America, which falls on Nov. 28.

But their sales could be lower than usual due to competition from cheaper Chinese products and Japanese electronics from companies like Sony and Sharp, which are expected to benefit from the weakened Japanese yen against the greenback.

Leading U.S. retailers like Costco, Sears and Amazon are preparing to sell Chinese and Japanese UHD TVs on their websites for half the price of Korean models. Chinese TV manufacturers that used to focus on the domestic market are now aggressively expanding internationally, including into the United States.

The United States is significant for TV manufacturers because it accounts for 15 percent of the world’s TV market, with 30 million units sold every year. Twenty percent of annual U.S. TV sales are made on Black Friday, driving TV vendors to engage in cutthroat competition.

Chinese TV manufacturer Hisense is taking aim at Samsung and LG by retailing its 65-inch 4K Smart LED UHD TV for $1,299 at Costco’s online shopping mall.

This is half the price of Samsung Electronics’ 65-inch 4K Smart Curved LED UHD TV, which goes for $2,799 at Costco. LG Electronics’ 65-inch 4K Smart LED UHD TV is priced at $2,599.

But do cheaper TVs lead to more sales?

In 2012, U.S. TV maker Vizio surprised the market by selling a 60-inch LED TV for $999 during Black Friday that year.

Sales soared and the company emerged as the No. 2 TV brand in the United States after Samsung, surpassing Sony and LG, according to market research company Strategy Analytics.

It has been reported that Hisense is also considering selling its 65-inch UHD TV for less than $1,000 on Black Friday to expand its brand awareness in North America.

“For Chinese manufacturers, their strategies are more toward expanding their position in the U.S. market for the long term, instead of pursuing immediate profits,” said a spokesman for Samsung Electronics.

Japanese TV makers Sony and Sharp will also pose a direct threat to Samsung and LG by taking advantage of their favorable currency to boost exports.

At Best Buy, the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, Sony lowered the price of its 65-inch LED 3D UHD TV ahead of Black Friday by $800 to $1,999.

The company has said it will give an interest-free, 24-month installment plan to those who purchase products worth $799.

Sony’s 55-inch UHD TV will sell for $1,499, $1,500 cheaper than its normal price. Panasonic’s 50-inch full-HD TV will retail for $199. Sony’s 32-inch full-HD TV was introduced at $189. These prices could drop further on the day of Black Friday.

As Japanese and Chinese manufacturers compete fiercely to take over Samsung and LG, the two companies are also planning to lower the prices of their own products, despite the unfavorable currency rate.

Samsung’s 55-inch UHD TV went down to $1,299 from $2,199 at Best Buy, while LG’s version of the TV was also set at $1,299 from $1,799. Samsung is looking to drop the price even lower to $899.

But it’s not just TV sales that are expected to rise. Japanese automakers are also hoping for a strong Black Friday performance.

Toyota is offering its newest Camry for $1,000 cheaper and some of the options are even cheaper than Hyundai Motor’s.

The Fair Trade Commission yesterday cautioned local consumers over their interest in Black Friday, when many will purchase discount goods from the United States through direct purchases at online malls.

“There are many disputes arising in regard to products going missing or getting damaged in the process of shipping by a shipping agency, so consumers must check the delivery and compensation terms in advance,” said Son Ji-heung, spokesman for the FTC.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]
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