Consumer electronics retailers, presumably flush with cash from record room air conditioner sales, turned September into a mega-month for purchases of video hardware, setting all-time monthly record highs for TV/VCRs, projection TVs, VCRs, camcorders and DVD players. And while direct TV sales set no new highs, it was the biggest September sales total since 1995.
Not included in the sales totals, which cover only analog video products, were the sales results for digital TV. CEMA said September saw sales of more than 15,000 units, to put the quarterly total at 26,000 and sales for the first nine months at 53,415.
According to CEMA figures, the month's sales of direct-view color were up 6.8% from last year to 2.66 million, to put the third-quarter total at a five-year high 6.3 million, up 5.7%, and the nine-month total at 16.2 million, up 2.3%. But despite the strong increase, based on traditional selling patterns, the month's sales of color TVs were at a soft 22.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. That was off nearly a million from the quarter's 23.3 million rate and below the nine-month rate of 23.2 million.
TV/VCR sales shattered the monthly record of 419,000 set last July with September sales of 501,900. That was up a strong 44.3% and boosted the third-quarter total to 1.29 million, up 39.8%. It was the first million-unit quarter for TV/VCRs and erased the standing quarterly record of 968,600 set in the final period last year. Nine-month sales of 3.12 million were up 43.1%.
The indicated TV/VCR selling rate was just 4.1 million in September, off from the rates of 4.6 million rate for the quarter and 4.5 million for the full period.
Projection TV sales bounced back sharply from the July-August slump with a 27.4% September jump to 160,800. The previous monthly high was 134,700, set just two years earlier. The month's surge more than made up for the summer slump and produced record third-quarter sales of 340,200, up 7.5% and a total for the first nine months of 810,900, up 12.1%. The 1.2 million annualized September selling rate for projection was on a par with the quarterly and nine-month rates.
The standing monthly high for VCR sales of 2.24 million set last November was cleanly erased in September by a 32.5% jump to 2.62 million. Sales set a third-quarter record, with a 22% increase to 5.92 million, and closed out the full period at 15.5 million, up 27.1%.
The month's annualized selling rate of 21.3 million was about the same as that for the quarter, but both were short of the 22.4 million average rate for the first nine months.
Sales of camcorders jumped 23.4% in September to 483,700, to top the record of 457,600 set in October 1997. That helped create a 27.1% third-quarter sales jumped to 1.21 million, a new high for the period, and put the nine-month total at 3.36 million, up 19.3%.
But even with that strong showing, the September annualized selling rate was just 4.1 million, the second lowest of the year, and well under the respective 4.6 million and 4.7 million rates for the quarter and nine months.
DVD player sales surged 341.6% in September to 501,500, marking the first time that player monthly sales topped those of camcorders. Sales also had their first-ever seven-figure quarter, as the July-September total increased 289% to 1.09 million.
Sales for the first nine months were up 327% to 2.37 million. Using the VCR sales pattern as a guide indicates that the annual selling rate of DVD players hit a milestone 4.1 million in September, which topped the 3.9 million rate logged for the quarter and the 3.4 million rate for the first nine months.