Retailers Anxious to Unload TV Inventory, Prices Could Drop 40% From Last Year

If you're in the market for a new TV, you'd be wise to scoop up one of the sweet deals out there for the rest of 2011.

Television manufacturers and retailers are eager to unload inventory due to sluggish sales. Among other issues, they over-projected demand for 3-D TVs, which could spell price drops of 30% to 40% from last year, James Wilcox, senior editor of electronics for Consumer Reports, tells DailyFinance.

"TV sales to date have been lackluster, so there's inventory in the channel. Manufacturers and retailers want to get rid of that, as new models are coming out next year," he says.

The business has been a victim of the tepid economy, as shoppers have postponed purchases of big-ticket items. A weak housing market has also stalled business.

The industry is also moving through a lull in the product cycle. Many consumers upgraded to flat-panel TVs in the past few years, and from standard-definition TVs to high-definition units over the last decade. Having made those shifts, they haven't had another compelling reason to purchase new models, experts say.

So, for the remainder of the year, shoppers can expect to find Black Friday-style deals on big-screen units, as well as Internet connected "smart" TVs, and 3-D TVs.

While the discounts on TVs will intensify over Black Friday weekend, prices could fall even further if sales are slow during the blockbuster selling period, Wilcox says.

"Consumers will be able to save $500 to $1,000 on TVs over the next few weeks" at stores such as Walmart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY),Target (TGT), H.H. Gregg (HGG) and (AMZN), says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist with the Consumer Electronics Association.

Big Deals on Bigger Sets, Feature Rich TVs

Expect to see steep discounts on larger units ranging from 42 inches to 60 inches, which are increasingly becoming mainstream.

In particular, 42-inch and 55-inch sets will be "the sweet spot" this year, DuBravac says. "We'll see 42-inch sets for under $500, and 55-inch sets for $1,000."

What's more, "Consumers should look for even more feature-packed TVs, often at lower prices than before," a Best Buy spokesman tells DailyFinance.

That means we should expect Internet-connected TVs, which have been selling briskly, to hit a new lows of under $1,000, Wilcox says.

Or even lower. Best Buy's Insignia Connected TV, a house brand, is retailing for $499 for a 32-inch model, and $699 for a 42-inch unit, the spokesperson says.

Like Best Buy, stores will be heavily promoting their house brands this year. "You'll see secondary and tertiary brands at extremely low prices," Wilcox says.

They'll also be pushing cheaper 3-D TVs.

In 2010, "the industry expected to sell about 3.5 million 3-D TVs. But based on estimates I've seen, they sold only about 1 million in the U.S. last year," Wilcox says. Now, shoppers will find basic, 3-D units for as little as $300, he says.

Black Friday Bargains

Over Black Friday weekend, limited-supply doorbusters could include a 60-inch LCD TV from Sharp for about $900, "a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than it had been previously," Wilcox says.

The weekend could also bring to market the first 32-inch, $200 LCD TV -- something that would have cost about $350 a few years ago, Wilcox says.

On Black Friday, Best Buy will offer a 24-inch LCD TV from one if its house brands for $79, the spokesman says.

Retailers will also be offering free shipping and extended financing options through the end of December to seal the deals.

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