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Report: TV Consumption Immune to Recession

27 May, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

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North American shipments of LED and plasma HDTV units in the first quarter jumped 17.3% to 7.8 million units from 6.6 million units during the prior-year period, confounding predictions the recession would bury flat-panel TV sales.

Consumers increased their television purchases by gravitating toward less expensive models, low-priced retailers and value brands, said research group iSuppli Corp.

“Amid the current economic downturn, a new wave of cocooning has hit, with recession-wary U.S. consumers eschewing travel, staying home and watching their televisions,” said Joe Abelson, VP, displays, for iSuppli. “However, they still are finding enough money to buy new flat-panel sets that offer superior pictures and larger sizes.”

Indeed, nearly 70% of U.S. television purchases were units priced less than $1,000, up from 62.8% in the second quarter of 2008.

Sales of flat-panel televisions priced in the $600 to $999 range rose the fastest among all price bands, increasing by 3.6%. By comparison, sales of flat-panel sets priced at less than $599 increased by 2.6%. HDTV sets priced from $1,000 to $1,499 and $1,500 to $1,999 and at more than $2,000 declined by 1.7%, 1.3% and 3.1%, respectively.

Separately, the Consumer Electronics Association last week in a report said the average U.S. household spent $1,229 on consumer electronics in 2008, a drop of $176 from 2007.

The CEA pinned the decrease to consumers opting for more economically priced products and not necessarily fewer purchases.

According to its survey, men spent an average of $902, while women spent $558. Annual spending among 18-24-year-olds increased to $1,056.

In an effort to generate greater incremental revenue from the $90 billion female consumer electronics market, Best Buy Co. created a women’s leadership forum (WOLF@BestBuy) designed to build a “stronger culture” for female employees and empowering female consumers.

The Minneapolis-based retailer said Liz Haesler, VP, home life and trend and Mary Stoddart, VP, territory manager, together would spearhead the forum in an effort to accelerate results for female market-share growth.

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