Audio Sales Finish Strong in 1999

According to figures just released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), revenues from manufacturer-to-dealer sales of audio products in December 1999 totaled nearly $568 million, a 6.3% increase over the previous December. CEA reports that the strong month's sales pushed year-end revenue totals to their highest mark in four years: total audio shipment revenues in 1999 surpassed the $8 billion mark for the first time since 1995, growing by 2% over 1998.

In the Separate Components category, the figures reveal that home speaker revenues increased by 17% in December. The highlight in the Components category, though, was sales of receivers, which grew by 10% during the year. CEA points out that, specifically, Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround-sound receivers had a tremendous year, 1999 sales growing by 77% over 1998 sales.

The CEA's Stephen Baker explains that "the strong sales of multichannel receivers in 1999 supports our belief that consumers are continuing to seek a more complete audio experience. In 2000, this trend will lead to quick acceptance and excellent sales of the new surround-sound formats, such as DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD."

Audio Systems grew by 8% over last December, to revenues of nearly $148 million. Audio Systems revenues for the year also finished solidly ahead of 1998, posting a 5% growth to $2.1 billion. This growth was fueled largely by compact system sales, which finished 9% ahead of 1998, at $1.7 billion, according to the trade organization's statistics.

The strongest performer in the month was Portable Audio, says CEA; sales in this category grew by 16% over last December. Portable Audio also finished the year as the leading audio category, eclipsing the $2.4 billion mark. Figures also reveal that home radios and headset CD players spurred growth in the category, increasing by 4% and 6%, respectively, over 1998.

Sales of Aftermarket Autosound products grew by more than 13% percent during the year, to total revenues of nearly $2.2 billion. CEA claims that "the growth in this segment is largely attributable to falling price points and consumers' increased desire for component additions, particularly digital technologies that reflect products in the home. Among these products, in-dash CD players experienced an especially good year, growing by an incredible 41% over 1998 sales, to $935 million."