Has the Silly Season Started Already?

We were shopping in Costco on Wednesday evening — that’s my wife and I, not the editorial or royal “we” — and I spotted someone rolling a Westinghouse box out the door as we walked in. Looked like a 42″ screen or thereabouts. And sure enough, right on the second endcap, was a pile of Westinghouse boxes. The sale was on a 42″ 1080p LCD HDTV model (no, I didn’t get the model number and it’s not on the Costco Web site). Right next to it was a Toshiba 37″ 720p model (again, I didn’t get the model number) selling for $749. That’s a decent price, but it provided a strong comparison for the price of the larger Westinghouse model: $699. And I didn’t spend a whole lot of time peering at the screens, but it looked to me that the black levels on the Westinghouse looked better than those on the Toshiba.

$700 for a 42″ 1080p LCD HDTV? Apparently I was not the only one to think that this was an appealing offer. I saw four others on carts in the half hour that I was in the store. Those sets must have been flying out of there.

Now, last year at this time, $1,100 for a Vizio was a good bargain in a 42″ 1080p set, with Westinghouse breaking under $1,000 in early October. Here we are at the start of September, and Costco already has a deal that is 30% lower than last year at this time. If the discounts are this low already, what movement will be left available to retailers when they try to stir up holiday sales? This bears close watching, but it looks as though my prediction about steep discounts coming early in the shopping season this year may have been on target.