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While set sales have been lackluster in the United States, European markets dream of a 3-D Christmas

More than 1 million 3-D TV sets have been sold in Europe so far this year — a mere five percent of all TV sets sold. However, Dixons Retail, a major UK-based consumer electronics vendor, is now counting on the sales of 3-D sets to be a big seller in the final month before Christmas.

Dixons owns PC World and the Curry chain, both major consumer electronics retailers in Britain. Its six-month pretax loss of more than $12.3 million has improved over more than $27 million the same period a year ago. However, outside of sales of Apple’s iPad and a variety of smart phones, 3-D TVs appear to be the company’s best bet to see a merry Christmas season in Europe.

“We remain cautious on the economic outlook across many of our markets, as consumer confidence remains low,” said John Browett, Dixons CEO.

The 73-year-old Dixons Retail has 25 megastores. Browett has also upgraded 250 of the company’s standard-sized stores, which he said are delivering average profit increases of 20 percent. However, Dixons’ shares are now trading almost 25 percent below their level of a year ago as the bleak outlook for consumers in many of its markets, combined with fears over increasing competition, discourages investors.

Even with Browett’s optimism, the massive promotional push for 3-D in Europe has so far not worked. Retail analyst GfK said that a mere 25,000 3-D-capable TV screens were sold across Europe since its availability this past summer.

According to Screen Digest, at least 100 3-D TV models and nearly a dozen 3-D Blu-ray player models were announced or released during the first half of the year in Europe.

Samsung, which was first to market, is expected to sell the most 3-D TV sets worldwide, but Panasonic, Sony and LG Electronics are not far behind. Panasonic is putting on a brave face, however, saying it aims to get a 50 percent share of the European 3-D TV market this year. It expects sales of 3-D TVs to generate 15 to 20 percent of its revenue in Europe this year.

On the content availability side, Screen Digest reports that 13 channels are already available across Europe, with another 20 to 40 coming online in the next couple of years. Sports are the leading driver of 3-D content so far.

The report said that with a cited 50 percent premium charge just to create the content, broadcasters would be positioning 3-D as a luxury addition to existing satellite or cable packages for some time to come. Attractive, compelling 3-D content is essential to high viewership.

After 2012, the report noted, if sales haven’t really taken off, then 3-D sets could find themselves pushed to the back of the store along with other failed home technologies.