1997 November Audio Sales Reflect Continued Interest in Systems

The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) announced on January 23 that total November audio sales bounced back modestly from an anemic October, but were still off by 1% for both the month and year to date. Total dollars for the first 11 months of 1997 stand at $7.2 billion, compared to $7.3 billion at this time in 1996. Nevertheless, spectacular sales of audio systems are singlehandedly offsetting the lackluster sales in all other areas.

"Audio continues to present challenges for our industry," explained Gary Shapiro, CEMA's president. "However, companies continue to identify new strategies to reach the consumer with products and concepts that hold considerable potential for re-energizing the entire category. And there are bright spots on the horizon for those that focus on value marketing, like systems and home-theater-in-a-box. As an industry, we need to redouble our efforts to recapture consumer awareness about the virtues and fun of audio, and the incredible value it holds for the casual as well as the dedicated listener."

Audio systems sales topped $220 million in November, reflecting a 22% jump. Compact systems contributed with another great month as sales reached $167 million, representing a 32% increase. In the year to date, compact systems stand 21% ahead of 1996. Home-theater-in-a-box showed even more growth, climbing 35% over last November.

While aftermarket autosound fell 7% this month, in-dash CD players fared well, moving up 14% in a month and 19% in the year to date, to $576 million---about one third of the total $1.7 billion of revenue generated by aftermarket autosound so far this year. That year-to-date figure is within a fraction of where the market was last year at the same time.