HDTV Sales Unaffected by Economic Woes

Sep 18, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Economic crisis? What economic crisis?
Despite a mortgage-related meltdown that has shaken up Wall Street this week and may have compounded consumer fears of an ailing U.S. economy, high-definition television sales are unlikely to slow. Prices continue to fall thanks to dropping flat-panel costs as customers prepare for February’s switchover to all-digital broadcasts, NPD Group’s DisplaySearch unit said at a Los Angeles conference this week.
More than 30 million liquid-crystal display TVs, almost all of which are HDTVs, will be shipped to North America this year, up 25% from 2007, said Paul Gagnon, director of North American television research, at the conference. Meanwhile, higher resolution 1080p televisions, which Mr. Gagnon called “somewhat of a savior for the industry,” will account for 30% of North American TVs sold this year, up from just 5% two years ago. Such televisions may account for almost 60% of the new sets sold in 2012, by which time HDTVs will make up more than 80% of new TVs.
“TVs are fairly de-coupled from the economy,” Mr. Gagnon said, noting TV sales spiked after the September 2001 terrorist attacks because more people wanted to stay at home. Mr. Gagnon called second-quarter TV sales growth “surprising” and “counterintuitive.”
In addition to the digital switchover, much of the growth can be attributed to HDTV prices that are expected to continue to drop for the rest of this year. The average cost of a 32-inch LCD panel, which DisplaySearch forecast in January to be about $320 by the end of the year, should actually drop to about $250 as manufacturers move production away from desktop-computer monitors and become more efficient.
With component costs down, “We could see $499 32-inch LCDs during the holiday season, which is a pretty important psychological barrier,” Mr. Gagnon said.


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