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For audio suppliers, 2002 is looking a lot like 1999.
Factory-level sales fell 17.5 percent in March to $632.3 million and 9.5 percent in the first quarter to $1.59 billion, almost matching 1999 levels for both periods, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) statistics show.
March sales were $100,000 below March 1999's level, and first-quarter sales surpassed first-quarter 1999 volume by only $595,000.
This year's first-quarter drop was the second-largest first-quarter decline of any year in the 1990-2003 time period. The largest drop during that time was 1996's 10.8 percent.
The first-quarter decline reversed a slight strengthening in fourth-quarter sales, which fell a modest 0.6 percent following drops of 11.7 percent, 9.9 percent, and 1.2 percent in 2001's third, second and first quarters, respectively.
In March, sales fell at double-digit rates in all four major audio categories. In the first quarter, sales were down in all categories but aftermarket autosound. Aftermarket sales for the quarter rose 5.1 percent based on back-to-back gains of 31.6 percent and 18.3 percent in January and February, respectively.
Here's how the categories fared for the month and quarter:
Home systems: Sales of shelf, rack and home theater electronics/ speaker packages fell 13.5 percent in March to $138.3 million and 13.6 percent for the quarter — a seven-year low of $355.2 million. For systems suppliers, it was the first first-quarter decline since 1999 and the worst first-quarter percentage decline since 1996's 13.9 percent drop.
Autosound: Growth came to a halt in March after four consecutive months of gains. March volume fell 15.7 percent to $223.6 million, but double-digit gains in the previous two months pushed first-quarter sales up 5.1 percent to $582.5 million.First-quarter sales were up for the fourth consecutive year.
Home components: Sales declined 18.3 percent in March to $108.7 million following two months of modest single-digit declines. March's performance contributed to a 9.1 percent first-quarter drop to $295.5 million, marking the second consecutive first-quarter drop. The quarter's performance eroded the optimism that accompanied fourth-quarter 2001's modest 3.4 percent gain, which reversed three quarters of double- and single-digit declines.
Total home audio: Combined sales of components and systems were down 13.5 percent in March to an eight-year low of $247 million, and down 13.6 percent for the quarter to an eight-year low of $650.7 million. First-quarter sales were off for the second year in a row.
Portables (including home radio): March's 22.5 percent decline to a three-year low of $161.7 million contributed to the quarter's 23.3 percent fall to $359.9 million, also a three-year low. The quarterly decline was the largest for any quarter in the 1990-2003 period.Q1 Audio Sales
|(Factory level, in millions)|
|Source: CEA, Arlington, Va. ©TWICE 2002|
|Portables*||$161.7( -22.5%)||$359.9 (-23.3%)|
|Home Components**||$108.7 (-18.3%)||$295.5 (-9.1%)|
|Home Systems***||$138.3 (-13.5%)||$355.2 (-13.6%)|
|Aftermarket Autosound||$223.6 (-15.7%)||$582.5 (+5.1%)|
|Total Audio||$632.3 (-17.5%)||$1,593.2 (-9.5%)|
|* includes home radios. ** Consists of electronic components, speakers. *** Consists of shelf, rack and home-theater-in-a-box electronics/speaker systems.|
Source: CEA, Arlington, Va. ©TWICE 2002
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.