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Large-Screen TV Shortages May Hamper Holiday

Reported shortages in supplies of some large screen TVs, particularly rear-projection LCD and DLP sets, may prove to be the one fly-in-the-ointment for what’s otherwise shaping up to be a solid holiday selling season for CE dealers.

“We’re very optimistic about December,” said Bill Trawick, president and executive director of the NATM Buying Corp. “The only negative is that we may not have enough LCD and DLP. Most members are facing some shortages.”

Trawick said the supply issues stem from over-cautious planning by manufacturers including Sony and Samsung. Vendors “started cutting back earlier this year because they were too cautious, and now they got caught short,” he said.

Stuart Rose, chairman/CEO of Rex Stores, acknowledged that shortfalls in his Sony, Hitachi and Sharp LCD-TV inventory are crimping sales. “Our business would be through the roof if we could get all we want,” he said. “Right now we’re scrambling to get as many as we can get our hands on through our connections, which is not enough.”

Tweeter Home Entertainment Group president/CEO Jeff Stone concurred that LCD projection and Samsung DLP sets are “turning very quickly” and are in limited supply. But he professed that Tweeter’s pre-holiday inventory is in “good shape” in high-demand categories including DLP, LCD and plasma. “We loaded up on SKUs and inventory to cover us, and secured enough to make our plan,” he said. “We’re also feeling OK about inventory of mid-priced plasma.”

Similarly, Ultimate Electronics “is in a good fourth-quarter supply position for hard-to-get inventory, including microdisplay and flat-panel TV thanks to early buys for the holiday season,” said president/COO Dave Workman.