By Kelli B. Grant
TV prices usually spike in late spring and early summer when the new models come out. But analysts say troubles at one of the world’s biggest TV makers could make those price hikes even bigger this year.
Sharp recently forecast a $16 billion loss for its fiscal year ending March 31 — the biggest in the company’s 99-year history — and is planning to cut production at its largest TV panel factory. As a result, the company may little room to compete on price amid falling TV sales, reports The Wall Street Journal. And the TV picture may be getting even bleaker for buyers: Samsung and Sony — which collectively represent 36% of the market, according to NPD DisplaySearch — said last month that they would increase margins on the new 2012 models to keep online retailers from undercutting bricks and mortar pricing.
Aside from paying more for new models, the shifting TV market likely means that consumers will see a pause in the overall trend of declining prices, says Andrew Eisner, the director of editorial content for Retrevo.com. (In 2011, prices dropped 20% over the course of the year, but experts say that drop didn’t result in the hoped-for rush to replace older sets.) Summer isn’t usually a big time for sales anyway, he says, but the change could ripple into the holiday season, affecting which models become door-busters or get flashier sales.
Spring and summer TV shoppers still have some options for deals on 2011-model closeouts, says Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV Research at NPD DisplaySearch. Those sets aren’t subject to inventory cutbacks or the new pricing, and may be just as good as the newer models. DealNews.com spotted a 55” Samsung 3D LCD at Buy.com for $1,800 — $188 less than the previous best price available, in January.