Flat-panel TV shipments grew in third quarter; signs point to slowing going forward

While retail sales figures for October from the Commerce Department showed the sharpest drop since 1992, North American unit shipments of flat-panel displays from manufacturers to retailers in the third quarter grew 6 percent compared to the same quarter last year and almost 12 percent year over year to more than 10 million units, according to preliminary results for the quarter from DisplaySearch.

LCD shipments grew 21 percent year over year, while plasma shipments increased 20 percent, according to DisplaySearch. Rear-projection TV shipments declined more than 50 percent year over year.

Shipments of CRT TVs, while declining, haven’t dropped as sharply as anticipated due to demand from shoppers looking for new digital TV sets before the February 2009 DTV transition, the research group said.

The overall North American TV market growth in the third quarter was stronger than expected and seems to indicate that retailers maintained strong purchasing levels during the first couple of months of the quarter, prior to slowing retail demand that emerged during the latter weeks of September.

Additional highlights of the quarter:

  • North American LCD TV shipments rose to almost 8 million units year over year, a gain of about 6 percent quarter over quarter.
  • Plasma TV shipments in North America rose 20 percent year over year to more than 1 million units for two reasons: widespread pricing below $1000 for 42in HD models and 50in HD plasma TV prices approaching $1000.
  • Combined LCD and plasma flat-panel TV shipment growth is slowing down. During the previous six quarters, growth was at least 41 percent year over year on a unit basis and only one quarter had less than 50 percent growth. However, combined flat-panel TV shipments in North America were up only 21 percent year over year.

For more information, visit www.displaysearch.com.