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Television Sales Decline 10-20 Percent Despite Discounts

Despite discounts, Indians are deferring purchases of new television sets, sending sales of leading brands down by 10-20 percent from a year ago.

The local arm of Japanese electronics firm Panasonic said TV sales were down by at least 20 percent in value and 15 percent in volume in the April-June quarter.

Heavy monsoon rains and flooding in several states have also hurt sales. Electronics retailer Croma, run by Infiniti Retail Ltd, part of Tata Sons said TV sales were down 10 percent in the last six months from a year ago, even as other appliances such as air-conditioners and refrigerators grew on the back of a hot summer.

Over the last decade, companies have helped shoppers trade up from CRT screens to LCDs, LEDs and smart televisions.

Moreover, an explosion in over-the-top video streaming services was expected to drive demand for large-screen televisions in India. However, demand hasn’t panned out as expected.

“Anything where the demand is largely of an upgrade nature which means I can do it now or postpone it—people are choosing to postpone it,” said Ritesh Ghosal, chief marketing officer, Croma.

Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO of Super Plastronics Pvt. Ltd, the exclusive licensee of Thomson and Kodak TVs in India, said that the cricket World Cup that ended in July was expected to boost demand for big TVs, “But it did not happen.”

Marwah added that over the last six months, industry sales have fallen 10 percent, largely driven by a dip in the offline sales channel. Thomson, which sells its TVs only via online retailers, said sales have continued to grow.

The sales drop comes at a time when manufacturers from auto to FMCG have witnessed a slump in demand.

Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of India said consumer confidence dipped in July as households remained pessimistic about jobs and the economy.

Manish Sharma, Panasonic CEO India and South Asia, said the weak demand set in once the last festive season ended in December.

“TV continues to be in a tough situation. Consumers still continue to remain in a state of indecisiveness that potentially GST rates may further drop and that the current time may not be the best time to buy a TV,” Sharma said.

Last December, the government lowered GST rates on 32-inch screen TV sets. More recently, a slump in demand and fierce competition from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi have also pushed brands to drop prices.

“Prices are today fantastic. It is a very attractive time to buy a TV compared to the festive season last year. There is no reason for a buyer to not buy except he is not sure if he can put the money on the table right now,” said Croma’s Ghoshal.

Panasonic’s Sharma agreed that the prices were low and now, all hopes are pinned on the upcoming festival season for sales to improve.―Livemint

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