Retailers discuss flat screen TV stock shortages

By Ian Neubauer

SYDNEY: A sample of appliance retailers around Australia surveyed by Current.com.au, revealed they are beset by shortages in the supply of flat screen TVs due to unusually high consumer demand and falling prices of plasma and LCD TVs.

“The sale of flat panel TVs has been huge but any retailer who didn’t place forward orders will have trouble getting supply for all the major brands. Stock is starting to come through now but they’re three to four weeks behind,” said Bi-Rite Mullumbimby general manager, Greame Wilson.

“We’re all out of stock of Pioneer, Samsung and Sony [flat screen] TVs,” said Retravision Broome proprietor, Steve Griffiths. “Stock is coming in but not as fast as demand is chewing it up. We’re always in a back-order situation with this.”

The unprecedented popularity of the category is related to rapidly declining price points. Plasma prices have fallen $7,648 since January 2003, translating into a 73.7 per cent decline over four years. The average price of an LCD TV dropped $182 to $1,717 in the same period, making it the top-performing digital lifestyle product of 2006.

A number of suppliers confirmed they were experiencing difficulties meeting demand for flat screen TVs.

“We’re running low on panels at the moment. We have already sold out the old range and are now selling into our new range,” said Hitachi product specialist — visual, Mark Lawson. “It’s been a boom time and I think a lot of our competitors are experiencing the same situation and are looking at air freighting product in.”

“I don’t think we are as short as some [of the] other [suppliers]. Having said that we would have liked to have had a bit more product in the last few weeks,” said LG Electronics category marketing manager — audio visual, Darren Goble.

Other factors contributing to skyrocketing demand in the category include a booming economy, improved consumer awareness and seasonal events that encourage impulse purchasing, such as the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

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