Converter Boxes Instead of New TVs

A report in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday confirms what many analysts have been saying for some time; sales of large flat panel TVs are in trouble, and inventories are piling up for both manufacturers and retailers. The latest evidence? Sales of digital converter boxes are exceeding projections. More people are simply buying converters for their old TVs that get their signal over the air, rather than buy a new set with a digital tuner.

According to the Journal, Radio Shack attributed an 8% boost in quarterly profit to sales of converter boxes. The article also cites a Best Buy representative reporting that converter sales have been higher than expected.

So not only are people buying smaller flat panels instead of larger ones, in many cases they’re not buying new flat panels at all, but just getting converter boxes instead. With the federal $40 rebate coupon program, most people will only be spending $10 or less out of pocket for the conveters. In today’s environment of economic turmoil and consumer uncertainty, buyers are more likely to settle on the $10 expense than the hundreds of dollars it costs for even a small flat screen TV.