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Apple is a hot product for holiday shoppers

Retailers’ deals on iPads, Watches and other Apple products indicate this could be a strong holiday start for Apple — even though Apple refrained from offering any of its own discounts. Analysts said early feedback from big-box retailers offering deals on Apple products, such as $100 gift cards with purchases, were positive. “If you just look at Target and Best Buy as two examples, and use them as a barometer, the fact that they’re even embracing these as doorbusters is a sign that demand is probably pretty healthy here,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said.apple-store

EBay reported that one iPhone 6S sold every six seconds. And Target issued a release in which it said that Apple iPads were top sellers in in its stores and online. The retailer sold an iPad every second throughout the day on Thanksgiving. Apple shares (AAPL) closed the holiday-shortened trading session down 0.2% at $117.81. Apple has rarely made a habit of offering huge Black Friday door busters, but it usually does something.

This year, however, the company was especially quiet when it came to holiday promotions. It didn’t repeat last year’s giveaway, for example, of iTunes gift cards issued to buyers of certain Apple products. But plenty of other retailers are deeply discounting Apple products. At Target, for instance, shoppers stood to get a $100 gift card with the purchase of an Apple Watch, a $150 gift card with an iPad Air 2, and a $100 gift card with an iPad Mini 4.

Target’s Thanksgiving holiday sales likely reflect the deals that Target is giving to iPad buyers, rather than a turnaround in sales for the tablet category, which has seen some sharp declines of late. There does appear to to be an uptick in sales of the Apple Watch at Target and elsewhere. IBM Watson, the computer that famously won at Jeopardy, predicted that Apple Watch might become the hottest gift item during the holidays.

FBR & Co. analyst Daniel Ives noted, that “this morning, we heard of ramping interest/sales among consumers based on our conversations at various Apple, Target, and Best Buy stores. While Watch unit sales have been roughly 6 million since launch, based on our analysis and improving consumer interest heading into the holiday season, we believe Watch sales in the December quarter should be close to the 5 million-/6 million-unit mark.”