Holiday buzz at electronics stores

Shoppers shrug off high energy prices and snap up TVs, digital cameras, laptops and other high-tech goodies offered at big discounts.

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By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer

One customer emerges from a Best Buy near New York's Columbus Circle with her Black Friday purchases .

NEW YORK ( -- Neither high gas prices nor falling home values deterred customers from lining up and plunking down cash at Manhattan electronics stores Friday, and deep price cuts helped big ticket items go fast.

At a Best Buy (Charts, Fortune 500) on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the buzz began the night before the 5 a.m. ET opening.

"We had people camping outside the store from last night. They brought blankets, chairs, tents. They're really excited," said Andre Sam, an employee at the store.

What they were excited about included a 32-inch flat screen LCD TVs for $450, down from a usual price of $750; Sony (Charts) VAIO laptops slashed from $750 to $400; and Kodak (Charts, Fortune 500) digital cameras for $99, nearly half off.

By 8:30 a.m. or so, the crowds had died down and many of the big-ticket bargains were gone, but customers still combed the store for discounts.

"Some of the DVDs are such a good deal, I can't possibly not buy it for myself," said 28-year old Kellie Fitzgerald, an office manager who lives in the neighborhood, while snapping up a "House" season two DVD for $14.99, a $35 savings. "We weren't planning on shopping at all, but we walked by at it wasn't so busy, so we came in."

Fitzgerald said she's planning on spending much less this year than last - only about $100 in total - mostly due to belt-tightening during her boyfriend's period between jobs.

Economists have been concerned that high energy prices and rising mortgage defaults could crimp consumer spending, which accounts for over 70 percent of the nation's economy.

But many shoppers said say the holiday season should be a buying frenzy.

"I think people will spend a lot more this year," Martin Rodriguez, a 52-year old retired corrections officer who lives in the suburbs north of New York, said at the Best Buy.

Despite paying over $150 a week on gas, parking and tolls, Rodriguez said he'll lay out out between $7,000 and $8,000 on things such as a plasma TV, DVDs and a laptop, considerably more than he spent last year. And he said he's paying for everything in cash.

Other shoppers said high gas prices won't cut into their holiday budgets.

"For me, it's not a factor", said 23-year old Queens resident Peter Murphy, browsing at a CompUSA store in midtown Manhattan. 'I think people just say that (they're cutting back) because they want [gas] prices to go down."

Murphy said he plans on spending more this year, about $3,000 to $4,000 total, on stuff such as video games for Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500)'s Xbox 360, and "anything with Bluetooth."  To top of page

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