San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Based on a TWICE poll of retailers and suppliers, sales in remote starters by most accounts will be up by double-digit percentage points this year.
Suppliers, including Audiovox, Astroflex, Directed and Firstech, all expect the market to increase this year, with Firstech forecasting 50 percent growth for its Compustar brand and Astroflex expecting double-digit gains for its Astrostart brand and for the market in general.
Phil Lubell, director of telematics and auto security brands for Audiovox, predicted “strong growth” for the market, noting, “Certainly, with the promotions from some of the car companies with national advertising, we believe awareness will continue and the demand will strengthen.”
Best Buy believes lower prices on two-way remote starters are also helping to boost sales. According to buyer Jason Hirsch, new lower-priced LED displays have helped bring down prices for two-way remote starters to the $299 to $349 range, compared to $499 two years ago.
Smaller retailers said the only factor limiting sales this season is the number of installations they can perform. Others said they were able to kick off the selling season earlier through advertising to pack in more installations and boost sales.
Stephen Sylvester, president of Radio City, based in Lewiston, Maine, said his four-store chain doesn't advertise the product because the store already sells more remote starters than it can install. “We're usually booked up in the middle of the season for three weeks. We'll do 3,000 a season.” He said he expects this season to be “up a little” in sales.
Steve Madeiros, owner of two-store Sound FX, in West Warwick, R.I., said he did about 3,300 remote starter sales last year and hopes to hit 4,000 in 2004, but he's still limited by installation. “I can't put in 5,000 remote starters in a season. I find if we can keep the install appointments under 30 days, we can keep selling them. Once it reaches past the 30 day mark, it starts limiting sales.”
To boost sales, Sound FX started advertising in September, earlier than in the past. “I get customers who say they tried to get in last year and we were backed up,” Madeiros added.
Silverdale, Wash., retailer Nuts About Hi-Fi reports it has already doubled business over this time last year because of store advertising. General manager Bob Craft said about half his business is now in two-way units.
MACH1 Car Audio, a six-store chain based in Little Canada, Minn., said sales are about the same as last year.
Jim Warren merchandising VP for Seattle's Car Toys, noted, “The remote-start business has been a lifesaver for the alarm business overall. We absolutely love this business. In general, remote starters have enjoyed double-digit growth for several years.”