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Sunlight Amid The Gloom

With all of the terrible economic news, two reports in the last couple of days stand out as rays of sunshine amid the gloom.

First, released a study showing that online shoppers are still showing strong intent to buy a flat-panel TV in the next 12 months among those who haven’t taken the HDTV plunge yet.

The poll was done Sept. 8-22 of more than 1,900 online CE consumers. Among the findings, 75 percent of those consumers who don’t own an HDTV intend to buy one in 12 months. And half said improved performance, not just price, is their motivation to buy.

During a webcast yesterday, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) economist Shawn DuBravac was quoted as saying that CE sales held up during August compared with other industries like home furnishings and cars. He added that flat-panel TVs and game hardware will be up for the balance of the year.

DuBravac reportedly repeated a mantra that many in the industry have seen over the years in other economic downturns — that consumers will cut back on vacations, dining out and going to the movies, but buy CE products to for home entertainment.

Analysts and economists have often disputed the claim, but most of the time CE has held its own during tough times.

CEA’s Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns study, which has a great track record over the years, will provide more predictions when released on Monday, Oct. 20, and that should tell everyone what kind of fourth quarter the industry will have.