Audio Sales Not So Grim After All?

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is reporting that factory-to-dealer sales of audio equipment posted strong gains in October, rising by 8% over last October's sales figures and eclipsing the $1 billion mark for the first time since 1995. The CEA says that growth occurred in all segments of the audio market except portable audio, sales of which remained consistent with last year's levels.

The CEA also reports that sales of aftermarket autosound products continued their year-long upward trend, up 30% over last October and topping $211 million. The industry organization points out that, as has been the case all year, in-dash CD players, power amps, and car speakers were the strongest performers in this category, each product showing significant growth. The strong October sales brought year-to-date revenues from aftermarket autosound products to nearly $1.9 billion, up 13% from the first 10 months of 1998, says the CEA.

Of particular interest to Stereophile and Stereophile Guide to Home Theater readers, sales of home-audio separates also grew in October, increasing by 2% over last October to post revenues of $166 million. The CEA claims that, throughout the year, a strong contributor to the growth in this category has been sales of receivers using Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround-sound technology. CEA statistics show that sales of this type of receiver topped $41 million this October—an increase of 57% over last October, and bringing the year-to-date total 80% ahead of the first 10 months of 1998. Also contributing to growth in the category were sales of speakers, which posted an aggressive 40% increase.

Finally, the CEA reports that audio systems also posted gains in October. "Riding the coattails of the segment's cornerstone product, the compact system," total sales of audio systems grew by 9% in October, to $292 million. Sales of compact systems alone increased by 14%, accounting for $1.34 billion in revenues this year, CEA figures show.