By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Demand for flat panel TV continues to surge in Australia but worldwide panel shortages have left suppliers and retailers unable to satisfy local demand with two TV vendors today indicating that lack of stock is currently a bigger problem than any so-called economic slowdown.

“Since late last year we’ve had growth upon growth upon growth,” said Sharp Corporation of Australia deputy managing director, Denis Kerr. “Our growth has been exponential growth and this month has been our biggest March in 10 years.”

Kerr credited some of the boom to the Government’s fiscal stimulus packages but also said that the economic conditions have benefited consumers.

“There’s no doubt the fiscal stimulus had some impact in December,” said Kerr. “However we went through a scare year where interest rates dropped, there was a huge amount of negative talk and people got scared, they wanted to hide their money under the mattress but by December people realised the world wasn’t going to drop around them, so they started spending and haven’t stopped. Mortgages are down, people have got so much more money than they had a year ago.”

As Sharp Australia prepares to release its latest TV range, the D77, the stock situation isn’t getting much better with stock of sold out until May.

“Today, tomorrow and Monday we are releasing our new D77 LCD TVs and we had to bring all stock in by air and we’ve already pre-sold all of March, April and most of May’s delivery.”

The situation is similar at Natcomp, the distributor of the Vivo brand.

“If I had more stock, I’d have sold it twice over,” said Natcomp managing director, Fabio Grassia.

“Everyone is out of stock and because of the downturn worldwide, factories are not producing panels, they are producing just in time and are waiting for the market overseas to pick up first.”