LCD TV shipments expected to grow slightly, driven by large-size screens

After miniscule growth in 2011 due to weak consumer demand and early inventory pressure, NPD DisplaySearch predicted LCD television shipments will be up slightly—by about two percent—in 2012 to 254 million units.

The research said consumer demand for TVs has shown signs of improvement late in the year, but inventory pressure plagued the industry through much of early 2011 and led to a sharp reduction in shipments to retailers. The result is that global TV unit shipments were expected to rise only 0.1 percent in 2011.

“Global economic conditions have improved in 2011, but more slowly than expected, and consumers in mature TV markets like Europe face continuing uncertainty, which is leading to very cautious spending patterns,” said Paul Gagnon, Director of North America TV Research for NPD DisplaySearch.

“Because price reductions are not as vigorous as a few years ago, partially due to a mature manufacturing base but also because of transitions to advanced features like LED backlights and 3D, consumers are becoming more willing to wait for peak sale periods to purchase.”

Poor sales of flat panel television sets hit both retailers and manufacturers during the holiday season. Flat panel TV sales continue to grow, but at a more gradual pace of two to four percent per year as the rapid transition from CRT to LCD and plasma nears an end.

LCD TV continues to be the dominant technology on a unit and revenue basis. Demand for plasma technology has fallen and NPD DisplaySearch expects this trend to continue. Large TV sizes also continue to show strong growth, with shipments of 40-inch and larger sets expected to grow 12 percent in 2012 while sizes smaller than 40-inches declines to three percent. A strong contributing factor to the growth of larger sizes, including an 18 percent increase in shipments of 50-inch sets, is pricing.

Sizes up to 50-inches will have average prices below $1000 in 2012 and even 60-inch sizes will fall below $2000 for the first time. Many consumers, the research firm said, seem to be willing to give up features in favor of larger sizes for a given TV buying budget.