Friday, November 18, 2016

Study by Adobe Systems: Holiday Deals and Discounts of 2016

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many people are already starting to plan for the holiday shopping that comes right around the corner. Late November is often the best time to shop for the holidays if you're looking for great deals on many items. However, this rule often only applies to general items, not specialty items that might sell out quickly. Jonnelle Marte, in her L.A. Times article, describes the results of a study performed by Adobe systems, which tells shoppers which dates are potentially the best for deals on toys, electronics, clothing, and jewelry.

Just a few years ago, Black Friday started early on the morning following Thanksgiving, when many people were off of work and had the time to go wait in hours-long lines to get a deal on the latest products. More recently, though, Black Friday has undergone a shift to start earlier and earlier, to the extent that some stores start their "Black Friday" sales as early as 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day itself. Some items have their best deals on Black Friday, but not as many as might be expected.

Electronics are one category of items that receive the largest markdowns on Thanksgiving Day, according to Adobe's research. From flat-screen televisions to cell phones and computers, Thanksgiving is the day to get those deals. When compared to the average prices on the electronics in October, it was found that televisions are expected to be discounted by an average of 20% and tablet computers will have an average discount of 18%. Those deals won't last forever, of course, given that the stores only have a limited supply of each product, but for the deal-hunters that get to their holiday shopping extra early, they could find themselves snagging quite the discount.

Another type of item that has its greatest discount on Thanksgiving is jewelry. Adobe's study found that on average, jewelry will be discounted approximately 10%. The research also found that many people push off making those purchases until later on, closer to the holidays, often because they are searching for the "perfect" piece of jewelry, regardless of the jewelry's brand. Because they search for a certain style and higher quality of jewelry, they often miss out on the deals, but because they get the best piece they can, many customers don't mind missing out on the 10% savings.

Most other items have their greatest deals on days other than Thanksgiving/ Black Friday. For example, clothing and other apparel often have the greatest discounts on November 22nd, or the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Retailers often start their discounts on clothing early, because it's not an item in major demand. Most people are more appreciative if they get a new electronic device on the holidays, not clothing, so the stores have to do something extra to get the additional revenue that has become expected during holiday times. In fact, some everyday items, like socks, will sometimes be marked down the most significantly right after the holidays are over.

As for toys, Adobe's research showed that the best day for deals would be Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is known for its online deals, but it is expected that most toys, especially generic ones, will be discounted an average of 13%. Toys are a more tricky item, especially for parents, because if they wait for the best deal on certain in-demand items, they may end up missing out on the item altogether, if te store's stock runs out. So, in general, Cyber Monday can offer the best deals on toys, as long as you're not focused on getting a particular toy. If you are looking for the latest Hatchimal or Lego set, you might want to pay a little bit extra to guarantee you get it.

Overall, the best deals seem to be those involving electronics that are offered on Thanksgiving Day. Every other deal seems to be a good one, but only to the customer who doesn't care about what specific product they are getting. For electronics, especially televisions, many customers don't care about the specific brand, so any discount on a large, flat-screen television is a good thing. When it comes to pieces of jewelry, people become pickier and look for quality pieces that won't necessarily offer the better deal. The above suggestions will benefit people searching for general products, but if a customer is looking for a very specific product, they might just have to bite the bullet and spend full price on it to help guarantee that they get exactly what they want.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

SolarCity Releases New Type of Solar Panels in Response to Decreasing Growth in the Industry

One of the biggest complaints that homeowners have against solar panels is that they "look ugly." Homeowners claim that the normal glass and metal panels clash with the look of their house and negatively affect the feel of the neighborhood. Fortunately for them, Elon Musk, the chairman of SolarCity, has revealed a whole new line of solar panels that look more like regular roofing tiles. Ivan Penn and Russ Mitchell, in their L.A. Times article, discuss what this innovation means for consumers and how it ties into all of the other technology being designed by Musk's companies.

Not only do these re-designed solar panels address the "ugliness" issue, but Musk also hopes that these panels will provide homeowners with more of an incentive to invest in one of Tesla's wall-mounted batteries. When the sun is shining, the tiles provide energy for current use and charge up the battery. When the sun isn't shining, the charge in the battery can be used to provide energy for the house. Eventually, he hopes that every home will have its own personal "alternative energy ecosystem" made up of Tesla and SolarCity devices. His goal is for green-minded homeowners to mix electric vehicles, charging stations, solar rooftops, and wall-mounted batteries to create the perfect blend for an energy-efficient home. Realistically, all of those devices are very pricey, so the components are sold separately, but Musk makes it clear that they work best as a total system.

Analysts believe that SolarCity's big announcement regarding the new-and-improved solar panels was due to the slowing growth of Southern California's solar industry. Where solar panel sales rose by 66% in the first three quarters of 2015 compared to the previous year, sales only rose by 12% in the same period of 2016. They believe the slowing growth is caused by the dwindling number of early adopters for the technology. The hope is that the new style of solar panels and the introduction of Tesla's new Powerwall home electricity storage batteries will help them quickly move on to the early majority segment of potential customers. Additionally, the slowing growth could be due to changes in state and local regulations. Rules are changing regarding how solar companies can sell their energy to utility companies, and tax credits for green energy are running out, so it becomes a less affordable proposition by the day.

Still, overall, analysts believe that the solar industry will continue expanding through the end of 2016. Prices on solar panels and wall-mount batteries are continuously going down, which helps those on the fence to make a decision. It is believed that overall sales in the solar industry will reach $38 billion by 2025, from $3 billion in 2016. While utility companies and local regulators have been targeting solar providers, making their costs rise, the solar companies have responded by partnering with electricity storage companies. It is sensible that a package of solar energy with a way to store it can be optimal based on customer demands. But, Musk already has a head-start on everyone else, since Tesla and SolarCity already make up their own strategic alliance. If other companies want to catch up, they will have to figure out a way to cut costs significantly, or accept lower profits until they have been able to get a substantial market share.

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