You Better Watch Out, Best Buy, Walmart Is Coming to Town

Recession doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on the market for high-end TVs. According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, 23% of respondents said they plan to purchase an LCD or plasma TV this holiday season.

It’s likely that some of the demand for these HDTVs is driven by the good deals right now. Price-conscious consumers may not be changing what they’re shopping for, but they may be changing where they shop.

When you think of electronics stores, Best Buy probably comes to mind. And when you think of low-price retailers, you probably think of Walmart. Now that times are tough, it looks like consumers are connecting the dots between the two and spending more time and attention shopping for CE products at Walmart.com

While interest in TVs at Best Buy (measured by unique visitor traffic to TV product detail pages) has increased just 10% over the past year, interest in TVs at Walmart has surged 123% to slightly overtake Best Buy. To make matters worse for Best Buy, the number of people that visit BOTH Best Buy and Walmart to shop for TVs increased by 74% over the past year.

Walmart is also gaining ground on Best Buy in terms of search activity. In November 2008, 2.7% of searches for TVs resulted in a click-through to Walmart.com, up from 1.7% a year earlier. In contrast, Best Buy’s share dropped from 2.5% to 1.8% in the same time period.

Will Walmart drive Best Buy out of the TV retailing business? Probably not, but consumers’ decreasing brand loyalty and increasing price consciousness should be a cause for concern. Only a better understanding of consumers’ increasingly sophisticated shopping behavior can keep marketers ahead of the game, allowing them to give consumers the products and shopping experience they want. Now that’s a present I’m sure everyone would like under the tree this year.