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Audio Sales Up 14% For Oct. Record

Factory-level audio sales accelerated at a rapid pace in October, rising by 13.9% to a record $1.07 billion on the strength of resurgent portable sales and the second consecutive month of double-digit growth in home component sales, the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association reported. Because of tepid growth in the second and third quarters, however, the industry’s year-to-date sales were up only a modest 5.9% to $7.03 billion, the association said.

October marked the biggest monthly percentage increase of the year and the first time that audio sales surpassed the $1 billion level for any month, CEMA said. Component sales rose an unprecedented 33.4% in October to a record $258 million on the heels of September’s 25.3% increase. The back-to-back surges contributed to a 13.8% boost in year-to-date sales to $1.58 billion.

October’s percentage increase was the biggest of any month since comparative records became available in 1991. If year-to-date growth continues at its existing pace, 1995’s component sales will exceed 1994’s $1.69 billion by 13.9%. Component growth was led by a 41% increase in A/V receivers to $66.4 million and a doubling of home speakers to $84.3 million. Surround-sound speaker packages were up 150%.

Portable audio emerged from its spring-summer slump with a 20% October gain to a record $426 million. It was the best monthly gain since a 31.1% rise in September 1992. Year-to-date sales, however, were up only a modest 5.4% to $2.37 billion because October’s gain followed a modest September 4% gain, which was preceded by four consecutive months of declining sales.

Portable growth categories included CD boomboxes, up 17%.

The autosound aftermarket didn’t emerge from its slump in October, when sales fell for the fifth consecutive month. October’s 0.8% drop to $165 million, although less severe than September’s 10% drop, contributed to a tepid year-to-date growth rate of 3.1% to $1.68 billion.

Home audio systems (rack and shelf systems combined) showed no signs of emerging from their doldrums and dropped 2% in October to $216 million. With year-to-date sales up only a meager 1.9% to $1.4 billion, the product segment could turn in its weakest full-year performance since a 0.4% drop in calendar 1991.

October’s downturn came despite a 10% increase in shelf-system sales to $160 million.

Thanks to component strength, total home audio sales (systems and components combined) rose a sharp 14.5% in October to a record high of $475 million, with year-to-date sales rising 7.9% to $2.98 billion. October’s growth rate was the second strongest of the year following February’s 14.8% rise.