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Downbeat Forecast for Holiday TV Sales

EL SEGUNDO, CALIF.—Shipments of flat-panel televisions in the United States are expected to decline by 7 percent in the second half of 2013 as the holiday season delivers little reprieve from the long-term slowdown in domestic demand. Black Friday sales are expected to be flat.

A total of 20.1 million liquid-crystal display (LCD) and plasma television sets are forecast to be shipped in the United States in the second half of 2013, down from 21.6 million during the same period in 2012, according to the latest US Television Market Tracker report from IHS Inc. With the majority of TV sales occurring during the last six months of every year, the second-half decrease will set the stage for the second consecutive annual decline for the U.S. flat-panel television market.

“Driven by holiday sales, the second half of the year is always critical for determining the fate of the U.S. TV market,” said Veronica Thayer, analyst for consumer electronics and technology at IHS. “However, even with TV brands offering lower prices during this year’s Black Friday than they did in 2012, sales in the second half will decelerate sharply. The U.S. television market continues to be stymied by the long-term slowdown in replacement and secondary purchases, with most U.S. homes already owning one or more flat-screen televisions.”

U.S. flat-panel TV shipments for the full year of 2013 are expected to fall to 34.1 million, down 9 percent from 37.3 million in 2012. This follows a 6 percent loss in 2012.

Television sales during Black Friday and other promotional days this holiday season are expected to generate about the same level of consumer activity as in 2012. However, the sales surge this year will not carry over to the rest of the holiday season, with overall Christmas demand expected to weaken compared to last year.

“When the promotions stop, TV purchasing will stop as well, because U.S. consumers are increasingly sensitive to price,” Thayer noted. “An IHS survey indicates that 43 percent of consumers now believe pricing is a major driver in their television purchasing decisions, up from 28 percent one year ago.”

On Black Friday, television brands and retailers are expected to offer price promotions on sets with larger screen sizes of 50-inches and bigger. Strong competition is anticipated to drive prices for these sets to lower levels than last year.