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'02 Audio Sales Slide To 9-Year Low

3/07/2003 01:57:00 PM Eastern

Arlington, Va. - Factory-level audio sales declined at double-digit rates last December, the fourth quarter, and the second half, driving down 2002 sales by 9.1 percent to $7.32 billion., CEA statistics show.

The full-year percentage decline, the largest since TWICE began archiving CEA's audio statistics in 1986, effectively set the industry back almost a decade in sales volume. Industrywide sales, which slid for the second consecutive year, dipped to their lowest level since 1993's $7.2 billion.

In December, total industry sales fell by 18.8 percent to $448 million, and sales for the quarter and half were off 25 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively, to $1.78 billion and $3.75 billion. In each of those periods, sales fell in each major audio category: portables, autosound, home components and home systems.

Fourth-quarter volume was the lowest since 1989's $1.53 billion, and second-half volume was the lowest since 1991's $3.61 billion.

Here's how sales break down by category:

Home Systems: Although suppliers said sales of home-theater-in-a-box systems were up in 2002, declining sales of two-channel systems dragged down the total system category for the month, quarter, half, and full year. Sales fell in December by 27.7% to $120 million, by 31.8 percent in the quarter to $499 million, by 24.8 percent in the half to $1 billion, and by 11.4 percent for the year to $1.88 billion. Full-year sales were their lowest since 1996's $1.7 billion.

Home Components: Full-year sales slid 11.4 percent to $1.2 billion, well below the industry's peak of $1.91 billion in 1995. Sales fell in December by 27 percent to $90 million, by 23.4 percent in the quarter to $317 million, and by 12.8 percent in the half to $633 million.

The component numbers include significant downward revisions made by CEA to sales reported earlier.

Combined Components, Systems: Sales fell by 27.4 percent in December to $210 million, by 28.8 percent in the quarter to $816 million, and by 20.6 percent in the half to $1.64 billion. For the full year, sales were off 13.2 percent to $3.08 billion, their lowest level since 1993's $3.1 billion.

The category includes sales of all home audio equipment but home radios.

Portables: The category, which includes home radio, nosedived in all reporting periods. Sales were off by 14.3 percent in December to $126 million, by 25.6 percent in the quarter to $558 million, and by 18.8 percent in the half to $1.12 billion. For the full year, sales contracted 15.1 percent to $2.03 billion, their lowest level since 1991's $2.09 billion.

Autosound: Full-year sales were up 4.5 percent to a record $2.21 billion following two consecutive years in which sales fell 1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Sales were off by 3 percent for the month to $112 million, by 15.1 percent for the quarter to $405 million, and by 0.6 percent for the half to $993 million. All the weakness was in the fourth quarter, with sales having risen in the first three quarters.

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