Let the sales games begin
WITH exactly one month until the opening ceremony, the Olympic race is on.
That’s not a race to a finish line, however, but a race to an electronics store.
The Olympic Games traditionally ignite a rush for new TVs, as living room athletes dash to upgrade existing screens to better deliver the sporting spectacle.
Australian retailers say they are already seeing heightened interest in screen upgrades, though not necessarily for the advanced models manufacturers are promoting.
While the 2012 Olympics will be the first broadcast in 3D, retailers say consumers are not specifically asking for the new technology, instead choosing televisions based on picture quality and size.
But retailers, manufacturers and researchers all agree that consumers are poised to make serious savings in the 2012 Olympics TV rush, with prices lower than ever.
And when it comes to buying televisions, Australians are gold- medal contenders.
Despite challenging economic conditions, research firm GfK reports consumers spent more than $ 1.3 billion on TVs in the last half of 2011.
Harvey Norman technology and entertainment general manager Ben McIntosh says 2012 could prove to be a bigger year for TVs thanks to the Olympics, but he says the traditional 40- inch TV is no longer enough for today’s buyers: they want something a lot bigger.
‘‘ There has been a lot of interest in really big screens over the past couple of weeks,’’ he says.
‘‘ We’re talking about 60- inch, 65- inch and 70- inch screens, so really big TVs.
‘‘ We’ve seen a very big spike for the 70- inch screen in particular because four or five years ago those sorts of TVs were well out of any consumers’ price ranges.’’
McIntosh says that while the rush has already begun, he expects consumers to descend on electronics stores in greater numbers from this week on, with reinforcements joining in if Australian athletes start to win medals.
With the London Olympics the first to be filmed in 3D, many manufacturers expected a boost in 3D TV interest.
Channel 9 will broadcast 3D footage of the Opening Ceremony on July 27 as well as events including the swimming finals, gymnastics, athletics and diving to viewers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and on the Gold Coast.
But Videopro operating manager Massimo Rosazza says consumers are not asking specifically for 3D screens.
‘‘ About two years ago there was a big push on for 3D but the content hasn’t been there so it has suffered,’’ he says.
Toshiba product marketing manager Justin White says consumers are currently focused on two- dimensional images and the colour and quality of moving images.
But while viewers might be buying big screens, they may not have to spend big dollars. GfK research shows average LCD TV prices fell 23 per cent between 2010 and 2011, and plasma screens fell 19 per cent.
Compare current TV price tags to those in early 2003 and the gap is even more startling, with the average price of plasma TVs having plummeted a whopping 90 per cent and LCD TVs dropped 73 per cent.