Attracted by declining prices and hot deals for larger, greener and flatter LCD-TVs, U.S. consumers are expected to set aside their financial concerns and snap up new sets during the Christmas season, according to iSuppli Corp.
U.S. LCD-TV shipments are expected to amount to 8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2009, up 7.3 percent from 7.5 million during the same period in 2008, based on a preliminary forecast. This contrasts markedly with the overall global consumer electronics market, which is expected to suffer a decline in revenue in the fourth quarter compared to same period in 2008.
“iSuppli expects a strong fourth quarter and Black Friday for U.S. LCD-TV sales,” said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for iSuppli. “Although most U.S. consumers already have purchased LCD-TVs in the past, low prices now are luring them to buy new sets that have higher quality images and improved features.”
Seeing Green on Black Friday
Pricing for premium LCD-TV brands on Black Friday, i.e., the day after Thanksgiving, is set to fall to as low as $299 for some High-Definition (HD) 32-inch sets and to $499 for select 42-inch HD models.
U.S. consumers have shown themselves highly receptive to sale prices for LCD-TVs. iSuppli estimates that 48.1 percent of all LCD-TVs purchased by U.S. consumers in the third quarter were on sale, up from 39.5 percent in the second quarter and 37.9 percent in the first quarter. This trend bodes well for Black Friday sales.
Even beyond the Black Friday deals, falling prices for LCD-TVs in general are encouraging consumers to purchase upgrade or replacement sets. For example, average U.S. pricing for 46- and 47-inch Full HD, 120Hz LCD-TVs in the fourth quarter is set to decline to less than $1,000, the first time this has occurred.
Average pricing for 42-inch LCD-TVs is set to fall to $639 in the fourth quarter of 2009, down from $768 during the same period in 2008. This is spurring increased purchases of 42-inch sets, stealing some market share from the dominant 32-inch size.
U.S. consumers also are warming up to new LCD-TV sets that employ LED backlights. Such sets offer a range of advantages compared to televisions using traditional Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) technology, including lower power consumption, better picture quality and thinner form factors.
“Consumers who bought first-generation LCD-TVs in 2003 or 2004 and paid $3,000 for 32-inch sets now are able to go to a retailer and spend less than $1,500 to purchase 42-inch LED-backlit TVs,” Patel said. “The U.S. LCD-TV segment is now a replacement market, where consumers want to buy products that look better than their first-generation sets. They are looking for premium features that provide a substantial improvement in terms of feature sets and quality. Sets with LED backlighting are being viewed by U.S. consumers as worthwhile replacement purchases.”
The United States now leads the world in sales of LCD-TVs with LED backlights. Average prices for 40- and 42-inch LED-backlit televisions fell to less than $2,000 in the middle of 2009, crossing a critical threshold that made them more alluring to consumers.
Samsung has led the LED push with an aggressive marketing campaign and the introduction of a range of products, including low-priced models. However, LG and Vizio have joined Samsung in promoting LED technology in the fourth quarter.
The rise of LED-backlit sets plays into another trend driving replacement LCD-TV sales among U.S. consumers: the desire for green televisions that consume less power and employ fewer materials harmful to the environment.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of green considerations,” Patel said. “iSuppli’s U.S. TV Consumer Preference Analysis service in the third quarter polled U.S. consumers who bought televisions and found that 45 percent said that green issues influenced their television-buying decisions.”
Lower power consumption is the most important feature cited by U.S. consumers that are concerned with green issues.
LED-backlit sets consume 30 to 40 percent less power than those using CCFLs. LEDs also eschew the use of toxic mercury that is found in CCFLs.
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