iSuppli: When Times Get Tough, The Tough Watch Television

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The world might be doing through an economic downturn and the U.S. fighting off a full-blown recession, but that doesn’t mean that every business is suffering. Apparently, as Americans stay home and forego luxuries in order to make ends meet, they aren’t above spending a little money to upgrade their TVs. According to market analysis firm iSuppli, sales of flat panel televisions grew in the U.S. and Canada during the firs quarter of 2009.

“In the post-9/11 era, a new phrase entered the lexicon: ‘cocooning,’ a trend among fear-struck citizens to avoid travel and remain in the safety of their homes,” said iSuppli’s VP of displays Joe Abelson, in a statement. “Amid the current economic downturn, a new wave of cocooning has hit, with recession-wary U.S. consumers eschewing travel, staying home, and watching their televisions.”

According to iSuppli, shipments of LCD and plasma flat-panel TVs increased to 7.8 million units in the first quarter of 2009, which marks a 17.3 percent increased from the 6.6 million sets shipped during the first quarter of 2008. However, the recession is having a bit of an impact: consumers are increasingly putting their dollars towards low-priced sets and value brands. Some 68.9 percent of U.S. television purchases during the first quarter of 2009 were on sets that cost less than $1,000; in the first quarter of 2008, that was 62.8 percent. Units priced from $600 to $999 saw the fastest increase in purchases.

Overall, Samsung took the top position in flat-panel television sales in the U.S. during the quarter, with value brand Vizio bringing up a close second. However, Samsung only won if plasma televisions are counted: without plasma, Vizio would have been the top selling flat-panel TV brand in the U.S. for the quarter. Wal-mart has also been giving Best Buy some competition as top television retailer, with each accounting for about 23 percent of the U.S. market in the first quarter. Sears and Costo rounding out the top four retailers for the quarter.

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