HDTV Prices Expected to Decline Amidst Sales Slowdown

Dennis Faas's picture

Since high definition televisions (HDTVs) first made a splash in the electronics market five years ago, at no point have sales of these devices actually declined -- that is, until now.

According to a recent report from the Consumer Electronics Association, consumers simply aren't buying high definition televisions right now, meaning it's expected prices could come down significantly in the coming months.

The Consumer Electronics Association report points to one glaring statistic: in 2010, 34.4 million TV sets were shipped by manufacturers. That's down 500,000 from 2009, the first time there's been a dip in total shipments since 2005. Furthermore, it's expected these sales will continue to decline in 2011.

Disappointing Holiday Season Chokes Inventory

Disappointment with 2010 (and more specifically, holiday) sales have had an impact on Super Bowl TV deals. The end of January is typically a big month for televisions shipments as consumers gear up for big game get-togethers.

"The holiday season was a bit disappointing for some retailers so there is a little bit more inventory that they have to clear through before they can bring in the new 2011 models," noted DisplaySearch analyst, Paul Gagnon.

Suggestions that retailers probably have more inventory than is desirable this time of year has kicked off rampant speculation that big box stores like Best Buy could soon slash prices. In some cases, we've already seen quality stock go on clearance. Best Buy, which had double-digit percentage reductions in its TV sales during the holiday season, has reportedly slashed many of its prices for Samsung and Sony TVs (by as much as 40 per cent).

50 Inch Plasma HDTVs for $600 or Less

Not to be outdone, Sears is offering 50-inch Panasonic and Zenith plasma units for under $600, while Wal-Mart has drastically reduced the cost of its Philips, Sony and Vizio products. (Source: cnet.com)

Many retailers say these are record-low prices given the quality of the merchandise available.

"Prices are so unbelievably low," said a representative for one California-based furniture outlet, "[We've advertised] that we will deliver that big-screen TV, an HDTV, (for the Super Bowl). If you [bought the HDTV by] Saturday night, [we promised to] have it to you before the game starts. Larger screens, lower prices and same-day delivery seems to be the hot button." (Source: usatoday.com)

Variety, Market Saturation to Blame for Sales Slowdown

So, why are retailers struggling so much to get people to buy TVs, long considered the marquee item in any given living room? Critics suggest that while four years at constant sales growth is certainly impressive, many people already own HDTVs, and that the decrease in demand is likely due to market saturation.

Also a problem: there's simply just too much choice when it comes to HDTVs. By now we're all familiar with LCD and plasma HDTVs, but the emergence of 3DTVs and LED TVs have led some consumers to ponder which technology is worth the investment -- especially when the cost is upwards of a few thousand dollars.

These are important questions for consumers, retailers and TV makers alike. Nevertheless, manufacturers are not discouraged by what they see as a slight slowdown. After all, 34 million TVs sold in 2010 -- that's still the mark of a vibrant industry.

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