Manufacturers and retailers agree: buy a TV before Christmas

Package deals and low TV prices make for some great bargains

Television manufacturers and vendors both agree on one thing: if you're in the market for an LCD or plasma TV then now is the right time to buy, thanks to the combination of the high Australian dollar, strong competition and pre-Christmas promotions. Additionally, prices may not get any lower for the foreseeable future.

Dick Smith national visual buyer Rodney Balech said that in the busy Christmas lead-up period all the big TV brands are "doing very well. Sony is doing well off its PS3 deal." Balech said that the rising Australian dollar has led to some important television pricing changes at the retailer, with Samsung's Full HD 32in LA32B550 available for under $1000. While he expects strong sales to continue past Christmas and into the New Year, he said that "it's hard to imagine lower prices. It's so competitive at the moment."

Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand for their televisions in the pre-Christmas period. Toby Barbour, deputy general manager of consumer products marketing, Sony Australia, says that Australia's economic recovery has affected television sales. "They're exceeding expectations, and we're outperforming compared to last year," he told GoodGearGuide. Sony traditionally sells the most televisions each year in December, with week 52 the highest grossing as consumers snap up post-Christmas deals. This may not be the case in 2009 though: the company's PlayStation 3 Slim bonus offer involved a massive 35,000 redemptions, exhausting the original 25,000 PS3s on offer as well as 10,000 additional ones. The offer is now over, but if you buy a Sony television before 31 December you can now redeem a free Blu-ray disc player and three concert Blu-ray discs. Barbour said that the TV market is "very competitive." "There's never been a better time to buy. Consumers will benefit from this competition."

Other manufacturers are confident that they can maintain sales after the Christmas rush. Toshiba's Sanjay Bhartiya, product manager for LCD televisions, has noticed a spike in sales during the company's free netbook promotion. "We don't expect any drop-off. We'll continue doing the same sales, [and] we might do some tactical promotions to drive sales." He said the company has had some very positive feedback on its 200Hz ZV600A LCD television and that sales, especially in the mid-range WXGA market segment, are growing significantly.

Panasonic's Paul Reid echoed the sentiment of other manufacturers: "Our volumes are significantly higher than last Christmas." The company has experienced record sales for both plasma and LCD televisions, and "from Panasonic's point of view there's never been a better time to buy a television." Reid cites the "double whammy" of low prices and compelling bonuses for consumers as the reasons behind strong sales. The television bonus offer has grown beyond the company's expectations, with up to a thousand redemptions per day occurring at the height of sales. Two of the three Panasonic bonus offers are now exhausted — all DVD recorders and home theatre systems have been redeemed — but the company is offering an unlimited number of Nintendo Wii consoles with television purchases.

Most manufacturers' bonus deals expire at the end of 24 December. Even if prices continue to remain at their current all-time lows, consumers will miss out on the added incentive of free games consoles, Blu-ray players and netbook computers — making before Christmas almost certainly the best time to buy a new television.

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Campbell Simpson

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