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Feb. Plasma Prices Drop 35%

Port Washington, N.Y. Plasma TV dollar volume dropped 16 percent in February compared with February 2006, to post the category’s first-ever year-over-year decline, according to The NPD Group’s retail tracking service.

The market research firm, which tracks sell-through performance to consumers, said price declines drove the revenue loss, as average prices tumbled more than 35 percent from February 2006.

Despite a 30 percent increase in unit sales, plasma TVs only generated $181 million in February compared to the nearly $216 million in February 2006, NPD said.

The average price of a plasma TV in February was $1,688, the second lowest price in three years, ranking “just behind November 2006 when prices bottomed out at $1,672,” according to NPD.

“Unlike LCD TVs, plasma TVs have not been able to offset lower average prices by reaching high volumes in their larger screen sizes,” said Ross Rubin, The NPD Group’s industry analysis director. “While these lower prices have allowed plasma manufacturers to reach out to a broader consumer base with a differentiated display technology, it’s still not enough to keep revenue on the rise.”

Forty-two inch plasmas were the best-selling screen size based on units in February, followed by 50-inch, which are continuing to grow in popularity and taking share from the 42-inch sets.However, 50-inch plasmas were the top revenue producers with an average price of $2,040.

NPD said February was a tough month for consumer electronics sales in general. In fact, television sales dominated most consumer electronics products in the period, bringing in over $900 million in revenue, even though unit sales were down 18 percent and revenue was off by 13 percent compared to last February.

LCD TVs showed the highest revenue growth with a 58 percent dollar volume increase over February 2006.