TV sales hold up in tight economy


We’re talking about sales of television receivers, of course, not the advertising sales that keep stations on the air. Despite the recession, a new study confirms that people still want the latest technology for their home viewing.

Shipments of flat panel TVs in the US and Canada amounted to 7.8 million units in the first quarter of 2009, up 17.3% from 6.6 million during the same period in 2008, according to retail research firm iSuppli. Consumers managed to increase their TV purchases by gravitating toward less expensive models, low-priced retailers and value brands, the survey found.

“In the post-9/11 era, a new phrase entered the lexicon: ‘cocooning,’ a trend among fear-struck citizens to avoid travel and remain in the safety of their homes,” said Joe Abelson, VP for displays at iSuppli. “Amid the current economic downturn, a new wave of cocooning has hit, with recession-wary US consumers eschewing travel, staying home and watching their TVs. However, they still are finding enough money to buy new flat panel sets that offer superior pictures and larger sizes,” he noted.

As US consumers flock to lower-priced flat panel TVs, they also are embracing lower-cost retailers, particularly Wal-Mart. Number-two flat panel TV retailer Wal-Mart in the first quarter of 2009 accounted for 22.3% of all US flat panel purchases, up from 13.8% in the first quarter of 2008. Purchases at number-one Best Buy remained largely flat during the same period on a percentage market-share basis.