like walmart, and other retailers, they are trying to phase out tube tv's. with each store thats built or remodeled, you'll find the tubes all the way in the back in a dark corner aisle or something, with flat-panels in the front where its visible to everyone.
projections are still popular due to the size of square inch...but for every 1 projo we sell, we push out at least 3 flat-panel tv's that are 37"+.
inorder for a projection to look good enough where it'll draw away attention from a good plasma, it has to be in a darker space and those are becomming harder to incoorporate into stores to make it look good.
after rereadiung your post, it also sounds like the store you went to might be going through a remodel. if you walk into a store thats doing a remodel, you might see tv's all over the floor or racetrack of the store.....or whoever did merchandising for that store had no idea what htey were doing.
but at the end of the day though, unfortunately IMHO, flat-panels are started to become a LOT more popular then all crt and microdisplay projection tv's combined.
I happened to go into Best Buy today and their entire main TV wall had nothing but Plasma TVs. The 1080p Sony SXRD was on the end of an isle, along the floor with no space to view it properly. The rest of the LCD TVs were down isles where you had to view them with no more than a 2 foot distance. Hmmmm.....