Rush for cut price ECO-TVs in Japan

Sales of flat-panel TVs at Japan’s electronics stores during the second week of November (8th-14th) increased by almost 600 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, as consumers rushed to the stores to beat the cut-down of the government’s subsidy program for the purchase of eco-friendly home appliances.

Data from market research specialists GfK says that following on from the Japanese government’s announcement on 8th October that the ‘Eco Points Subsidy’ [*see below] will be halved in December, the demand for flat-panel TVs has been showing a rapid upward surge week on week. Unit sales of flat-panel TVs in October already jumped as much as 2.5 times compared to the same period of the previous year, and last week finally reached an astonishing six-fold increase.

Behind this extraordinary growth has been the huge potential replacement demand for digital TV’s, which was triggered by the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting scheduled for July 2011. Furthermore, there is the very recent event in Japan which has seen another government subsidy program (purchasing eco-friendly cars) closed out earlier than scheduled due to dwindling budgets, prompting consumers to buy flat-panel TVs sooner rather than later in order to avoid the same misfortune.

This huge boost is expected to reach its highest peak toward the end of November 2010, tailing off by the end of March 2011 when the Eco Point Program finally finishes, says GfK.

“In November, flat-panel TV market will see a record-high increase which we have never experienced before,” said Yoshi Fujibayashi, the chief analyst of GfK Marketing Services Japan. “Thereafter we expect total annual sales of flat-panel TV to exceed 24 million in units, up more than 10 million from 2009. This represents a level approximately 2.4 times higher than in previous years.”

“In 2011, the flat-panel TV market will see a backlash in volume sales from the extraordinary surge in 2010,” Fujibayashi continued. “However, we expect that replacement demands for second or third TVs along with the prevalence of 3D and Internet TV will certainly be attractive factors to stimulate further consumer spending. This should help the 2011 TV market remain positive and ahead of the years prior to the huge increase seen in 2010.”

*The Eco Point Program has been implemented by three Japanese ministries to promote the purchase of “Green” electric home appliances as part of measures to fight global warming, to revamp local economies and spread the use of T-DMB (Terrestrial digital media broadcasting) TVs. Depending on the type of energy-conservation measures applied, users can receive eco-points, which can be used for additional renovations or exchanged for gift certificates or local specialties. Products include televisions, refrigerators, and air-conditioners.

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