Walmart, others cut TV prices in Super Bowl run-up

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:12pm EST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc is cutting prices on high-definition TVs ahead of the U.S. Super Bowl championship game, looking to entice shoppers to spend now that the holiday season has ended.

In its U.S. Walmart stores, the discounter is also getting more vocal about promoting its in-home TV installation service, an offering that it said is helping shoppers become more comfortable buying larger, and often more expensive, TVs.

"We do know that there are customers who are not all do-it-yourself type customers, they do want professional help for installation," said Alex Cook, senior category director for consumer electronics at Walmart U.S.

Starting on Sunday, Walmart is cutting prices on select high definition TVs by $30 to $300. It will offer a Vizio 55-inch 1080p LCD TV for $1,298, or $200 off; a Sony Bravia 46-inch 1080p LCD TV for $778, or $300 off; and a Vizio 32-inch 720p LCD TV for $368, marked down by $30.

Electronics retailers typically roll out discounts ahead of the Super Bowl to entice shoppers to buy a new TV to watch the game. This year, the National Football League's Super Bowl is being played on February 7.

Sears has launched an ad campaign featuring Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, and on its Website it is offering 5 percent off LCD TVs $499 and over.

Best Buy Co Inc is cutting prices on TVs, offering a Samsung 46-inch 1080p LCD high-definition TV for $1,599.99, a price cut of $900. It is also promoting its Geek Squad TV installation service.

In a playful twist, Target Corp is promoting Super Valenbowl -- a celebration of the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day. For the event, it is highlighting low TV prices and touting its home delivery and installation services.

U.S. retailers just completed a better-than-expected holiday sales season. Holiday retail sales rose 1.1 percent in 2009, according to the National Retail Federation, beating its own forecast for a 1 percent drop in sales for the November-December period.

The question now is whether that momentum will continue into 2010. Many electronics retailers offered rock bottom prices on TVs during the holiday season -- prices lower than many of those now advertised for the Super Bowl.

Cook said Walmart knows customers are watching their discretionary spending, which is one reason it is highlighting the new price cuts for the Super Bowl.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Gary Hill)

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