I know that the economy is tough and lots of people are out of work. Even more people are walking on eggshells, hoping that they get to keep their current job. This is the point in the economic cycles where cash is king and bargains are to be had. And that’s the case for HDTVs as well.
There’s a huge traffic jam in the inventory pipeline. The summer was even slower than projected, which is really slow. The Labor Day/back-to-school buying season looks disappointing, and I won’t be surprised to see retailers hanging snowflakes and deep price cuts in October. Once again, Black Friday and the holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a consumer electronics blood bath, with lots of red ink spilled all over the place.
DisplaySearch has a service that tracks the price of LCD panels. These are not complete HDTV sets, but just the display panel itself. A 42″ 1080p panel sold for about $333 in May, but that has dropped to $288 in the beginning of September. That’s $45 less, or a 13.5% price drop in less than four months. A 32″ WXGA (720p) panel went from $205 to $174 in the same period, down $31 or more than 15%.
In order to generate sales, HDTV manufacturers are going to have to cut prices, and they are going to look the panel makers to share some of the pain. The panel makers are already starting to lower their production, which is expensive. Their plants are designed to run flat out in order to maximize the return on the cost of building these expensive factories, yet some Taiwan plants are reported to be running at just 80% of capacity. And the retailers are going to be slow to order more product until they can sell off what they’ve got on hand already.
So all this bad news adds up to good news for you; you can expect to get some great bargains this fall on flat screen TVs, if you’ve got the money on hand. And you won’t have to wait until after the holidays; you’ll be able to find bargains now so that you don’t have to watch football on your old set this season.