According to a variety of sources, LCD TVs sales were up about 10% Y/Y during the National Day Golden Week in China, Oct 1-7. Gome, one of the largest national chain stores, officially announced its AV sales grew 16%, out-performing the average 15% during Golden Week. Local brands took share through aggressive promotion of high-end TVs and by using emerging channels such as specialty stores, group purchases, and online sales.
Because of these emerging channels, traditional TV sales channels only grew slightly, most likely up 6-8%, according to the initial sell-through sales results and vendors’ feedback. LCD TV sales are estimated to be about 2.8 million units during golden week, according to preliminary checks. TCL, Haier and Changhong enjoyed higher growth than 15% Y/Y; other local brands grew 5-20% Y/Y; and foreign brands grew slightly.
The lowest LCD TV prices during Golden Week came from online sales channels, e-commerce on websites, group purchases from chain stores, and TV makers’ specialty stores. In general, prices were at least 5% lower than in traditional channels; it is estimated that emerging channels contributed 3-4 points of growth during Golden Week, which also might explain why the results of spot checks on traditional channels in cities has been lower than shipment growth of TV vendors in the past several quarters.
To secure margins and keep ASPs up, local brands tried to promote new TV features in city markets, such as LED, 3D, and the so-called cloud TV. Unlike the US and European markets, it is difficult to hold a high premium on new features for very long in China.
Besides normal fighter models with low specs and few features, many high-end fighter models with new features sold well during Golden Week. Changhong cut the price of its A9000, a 47” smart TV with 3D and LED features, by over 30%, to CNY 3999 ($615), including 17% VAT, and a 32” 3D LED TV dropped to CNY 2999 ($460). TCL dropped the price of a 32” LED TV to CNY 1799 ($275), cut a 42” 3D CCFL TV to CNY 3899 ($600), and dropped a 46” LED 3D model to CNY 4699 ($722).
Interestingly, a new 60” Sharp LCD-60LX531A model tagged at CNY 14,999 ($2310) was promoted at CNY 10,000 ($1500) at a regional chain store.
Before National Day, most local brands had 7-8 weeks of inventory, and were careful not to increase inventories because of falling panel prices and financial difficulties since the middle of 2010. Due to good sales during Golden Week, LCD TV inventories have returned to normal levels, about 4-5 weeks. TV brands are expected to rebuild inventories step-by-step for the up-coming holidays: Christmas, New Years, and then Chinese New Year.