Audio Posts Strong November Sales

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November was a star performance month for factory sales of audio products, with the increase in the value of shipments against the same month last year the largest in five years.

According to figures issued by CEA, factory sales of portable, home and mobile audio equipment totaled $901.4 million. That was up 16 percent from November of last year and was the biggest percentage increase since the 20.8 percent rise of August 1994. Sales through the first 11 months of last year were up a much more modest 1.8 percent to $7.51 billion.

All categories joined in the November sales surge, including portable audio, which had only its second monthly increase of the year -- a 9.5 percent boost to $304.2 million. Major portable gainers in the month, CEA said, were headset CD players, up 19 percent; home radios, up 15 percent, and tape recorders, up 18 percent. On the year through November, portable audio sales were valued at $2.22 billion, down 6.6 percent from the same year-earlier period.

Total home audio sales jumped 17.3 percent in November to $420.5 million, paced by the 28.9 percent climb in sales of compact and component systems to $271.2 million. Sales of separate components, at $149.3 million, edged up 0.8 percent.

For the full 11 months total home audio sales stood at $3.24 billion, up 1.2 percent, the first such cumulative increase since May, with system sales up 4.5 percent to $1.92 billion and component volume off 3.3 percent to $1.32 billion.

In commenting on systems, CEA said that although sales of racked components and home-theater-in-a-box contributed to the month's rise, most of the increase stemmed from a 32 percent gain for compacts to $231 million.

Also, the association indicated, compacts accounted for nearly 99 percent of all home audio system sales through the 11-month period.

In components, receivers with Dolby surround decoders generated better than 70 percent of the month's sales dollars.

Autosound, the year-long audio performance star, turned in another stellar performance in November, with sales up 25.2 percent to $176.7 million, to put the 11-month total at 2.04 billion, up 14.2 percent. Strong performers for the month, CEA said, included CD players and changers, speakers and power amps.

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