With international stock markets forcing economic writers to reach for their Thesauruses to find a word that goes beyond “volatility“, we’ve added another factor to the mix for this train wreck that we call this year’s holiday buying season. Manufacturers and retailers alike were counting on this last quarter of the year to balance their books, but high inventory levels and cautious consumer spending dimmed those prospects. And now the global credit crisis looks to throw cold water on whatever embers of hope that might have still been glowing. So my predictions of earlier “Black Friday” discounts and businesses trying desperately to get some cash from their inventory just get stronger.
I’m not alone in this pessimistic view. An Associated Press story this week quotes David Barnes of DisplaySearch (who I know and whose opinions I respect) as saying that prices will decline rapidly starting with Black Friday and will continue until next year. He also expects that 32″ sets will take center stage, as consumers lower their expectations from the larger 42″ models. He believes that 32″ models could go for as little as $350.
I was planning to buy a 42″ LCD HDTV this week because I have found models with the pricing and features that I want, but I’ve changed my mind. Like so many other consumers, I’m going to make do with what I’ve got until after the new year. I expect that my dollar is going to go a lot further by then. The manufacturers’ and retailers’ pain will be my gain, at least for this transaction. With some analysts predicting that Circuit City won’t survive much past the start of 2009, we’re talking about serious problems for the consumer electronics industry, but it should make for some great bargains for buyers with ready cash.