Analysis: Stores gear up for "dogfight" in TV aisles

Sun Nov 6, 2011 12:31pm EST
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By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It may not be a blood bath, but it will definitely be a dogfight.

The television aisles of top U.S. retailers are poised for a hard-fought contest this holiday season as chains take little chances with budget-conscious shoppers.

Unlike last year when some such as Best Buy held the line on discounts and promoted only high-end TVs, many retailers told Reuters this past week that they plan to do whatever it takes to get the customer through the door.

For the consumer, expect to see price cuts of up to 40 percent from a year ago on big-screen TVs, plus free shipping deals and even a 36-month financing option, in the run-up to "Black Friday" on November 25, the unofficial start of the holiday selling season.

"As we look at the holiday season, we are going to play offense," Hhgregg Inc Chief Executive Officer Dennis May told Reuters in an interview last week. "We are going to be very promotional. We are going to be aggressive."

U.S. shoppers have held off on buying televisions and other nonessential items in the anemic economy. But the TV market is also a victim of a lackluster product cycle.

Early last week, Japanese manufacturer Sony Corp warned investors that its TV division is headed for its eighth consecutive annual loss, while rival Panasonic Corp forecast its biggest annual net loss in a decade.

"My outlook is not any different from Panasonic and Sony," Anthony Chukumba, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets said. "We have a lull right now in terms of TV demand; part of it is macro-driven, part of it is product cycle-driven. There is just not a lot of innovation out there.   Continued...

<p>A man looks at Panasonic Corp's Viera televisions displayed at an electronics store in Tokyo October 31, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>