CEA Reports a Sluggish Month For Audio Components

It would be easy to blame the popularity of home computers for a recent slowdown in audio component sales, except for the fact that PCs are having a tough season themselves. Maybe all of those audio dollars are being spent to cover losses in the stock market or to buy new PlayStation 2s. Regardless, sales of audio products suffered a bit of a slump this past October compared to last year.

According to the latest statistics released by the Consumer Electronics Association, sales to dealers of separate audio components dipped 10% in the month of October compared to the same month in 1999. However, the CEA points out that overall, sales of separate audio components are still in the black, up 9% over last year to $1.3 billion in revenue thus far this year. The CEA says that contributing factors to this year-to-date growth are the sales of receivers, up 17% to $503 million, and sales of speakers, up 8% to revenues of $369 million.

Although October sales revenues from all audio products fell slightly compared to October of last year (2%), the CEA is still optimistic, stating that industry revenues rang up a healthy $992 million for the month, and are up 9% to revenues of $7.2 billion for the year so far. Denon's Stephen Baker, who also chairs CEA's Audio Division, stated, "Year-to-date sales are up, and we are optimistic about the year-end holiday selling season. Consumers are realizing that audio is the soul of an entertainment system."

There was one definite bright note reflected in the latest stats. The CEA reports that factory sales to dealers of portable audio products were on the upswing in October. Sales increased 3%, equaling revenues of $354 million, higher than last year's totals for the same month, and are up 16% for the first ten months of the year, compared to 1999. In particular, headset CD players generated $738 million of revenue so far this year, a healthy 26% higher than last year. A sobering thought for audiophiles: The largest sector in the audio products category is still portable products, which generated year-to-date industry revenues of $2.2 billion.