Flat-panel TV sales grow at a strong pace in 2009 despite broader economic doldrums

While 2009 will be remembered for mounting foreclosures, widespread layoffs and lackluster consumer confidence, one thing that won’t come to mind when recalling last year is a decline in the sale of flat-panel TVs.

DisplaySearch last week released its 2009 tally for the flat-panel TV market showing growth in the number of units worldwide in excess of 32 percent — a level similar to the growth rate posted in 2008. The market research firm also forecasted that thanks to new technologies, such as 3-D, Internet connectivity and LED backlights, the worldwide market for TVs will grow more than 10 million units to 228 million this year.

According to Hisakazu Torii, VP of TV market research for DisplaySearch, LCD TVs will record strong 2010 sales, reaching 180 million units, up 24 percent from last year.

Another significant factor for last year’s strong sales growth was price erosion, DisplaySearch reported. In 2009, LCD TV average prices fell 24 percent from 2008 levels. For 2010, average prices are expected to drop 5 percent for LCD TVs and 10 percent for plasma TVs. The relatively modest decline this year can be attributed to several factors, including renewed growth in the sale of larger screen sizes, the quick price drop from last year and growth in the sales of LED-backlit LCD TVs, which are more expensive.

DisplaySearch expects plasma TV unit shipments to climb about 6 percent in 2010 to more than 15 million units. In 2009, they declined 2 percent. CRT TV shipments will continue to fade from the market, falling by 36 percent in 2010 after a 40 percent drop in 2009, the research firm said.