November Audio Sales Achieve Highest Monthly Increase in Five Years

Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association reported that sales of audio products during November constituted the largest monthly increase since August 1994. Total revenues for the month reached $901 million, representing a 16% increase over last year's figure. The CEA adds that November's sales brought total year-to-date sales to $7.5 billion—2% ahead of the same period last year.

According to the CEA, "November saw growth across all four audio sectors, with the most dramatic increases in audio systems and aftermarket autosound." Statistics reveal that total sales of audio systems grew by 29%, to a level of $271 million, while all of the major audio-system products (compact systems, rack systems, and home-theaters-in-a-box) posted significant gains during the month. Compact systems, however, performed strongest, says the CEA, increasing by 32% to revenues of $231 million, with year-to-date total revenues for compact systems having grown by 5%, to more than $1.9 billion.

Of particular note to Stereophile readers, sales of separate home components grew by 1% in November, to $149 million, according to the CEA. But a sobering fact is revealed by the CEA's statement that "the exciting element of separate home component sales is the trend toward purchases of surround-sound equipment. Well over 70% of total receiver revenues in November came from sales of Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround-sound receivers. These receivers enable consumers to turn traditional 2-channel home stereos into multichannel audio environments for home theater and/or surround audio applications."

As has been the case throughout the year, the CEA's figures show that aftermarket autosound performed well in November, growing by more than 25%, to almost $177 million during the month. Contributing to the success, claims the CEA, were double-digit sales gains posted by car speakers, in-dash CD players, CD changers, and power amps.

Not surprisingly, the CEA reports that November also saw a resurgence in the sales of portable audio products—"the single largest contributor to total audio products"—with year-to-date revenues of $2.2 billion. The figures show that sales of portable audio products grew by 10% over last November, "fueled largely by the success of headset CD players, which increased by 19%." Other portable audio products showing increases were home radios and analog tape recorders, which posted gains of 15% and 18% respectively.