Flat-panel TV sales brush off recession

If retail sales of flat-panel TVs are any indication of the popularity of DTV and HDTV, North American consumers are head-over-heels in love with these new formats — even in the face of the overall recession gripping consumers.

The latest figures from display market expert DisplaySearch reveal demand for flat-panel TVs among consumers in North America outpaced brand and retail supply in the first quarter of 2009. As a result, many retailers find themselves out of stock on some of the most popular models.

Shipments surged in the first quarter — up 23 percent year over year to 7.2 million units, following the first-ever year-over-year decline during the last quarter of 2008, the research organization found.

The latest “Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report” from DisplaySearch reports that aggressive closeout pricing and the closing of electronics retailer Circuit City brought bargain shoppers out to stores.

The report also found:

  • Thirty-two-inch LCD TVs were a particularly bright area in the first quarter, growing 41 percent year over year and only declining 5 percent quarter over quarter; shipments of 40in and larger LCD TVs fell a greater than average 25 percent quarter over quarter.
  • Plasma TV shipments fell 50 percent quarter over quarter and 5 percent year over year to 672,000 units. Fifty-inch sets faired a little better than 42in models, declining by only 2 percent year over year rather than 6 percent for the 42in category.
  • Vizio rose to become No. 1 in LCD TV shipments with market share improving to 18.9 percent, a new high for the brand.
  • Samsung fell to No. 2 in LCD TV after four straight quarters of leadership, as the company’s share fell from 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 17.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
  • Sony was the No.3 LCD TV brand in North America with 36 percent year-over-year shipment growth.
  • Panasonic remained the plasma TV market leader.