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Black Friday: Glass Shortage Won't Derail LCD Sales

No, it's not déjà vu all over again: Manufacturers and retailers are already thinking about the next holiday sales season—and traditionally one of the biggest days of the period—the Friday after Thanksgiving next November.

A severe current shortage of glass for HD television screens will grow the price of LCD panels at the manufacturing stage, but the problem likely will be resolved in time for the all-important holiday buying season, including Black Friday, according to industry analyst iSuppli.

For TV makers, the problem was simply too much stock leading to lower future orders from glass suppliers. Facing an over-supply in the fourth quarter of 2008, suppliers started cutting capacity, eventually leading to less than half of full utilization by the end of last year. (A few glass makers temporarily shut down altogether.)

According to iSuppli, TV panel suppliers currently are unable to increase LCD panel production—despite strong demand from China and other regions. Thus, global price points for especially large-sized LCD panels were expected to rise in June for a fifth straight month.

But the analyst says the situation is only temporary, and that prices for most LCD HD panels will peak in September and begin declining in time for the holiday sales season in late November (including Black Friday), December, and early 2010.

But at the same time, iSuppli said retailers will have to institute highly attractive sale prices and other consumer incentives if they hope to achieve their initial LCD sales targets, especially since the current down economy is widely expected to last at least until early 2010.

Black Friday price cuts could be hugely attractive, iSuppli predicts—forecasting that some 42-inch LCD 1080p panels (no brands mentioned) could retail on Black Friday for as little as $500.