Aarlington, V. — A sharp rebound in factory-level audio sales in March and the first-quarter holds out the hope — however naïve — that the industry could post its first annual increase in 2004 after three consecutive years of decline.
March sales jumped 34.7 percent to $695.1 million, helping drive up first-quarter sales by 16.7 percent to $1.627 billion, CEA statistics show. The first-quarter gain was the industry’s first in four years. (See table below.)
Despite the advances, March sales were below their 2001 peak of $766.9 million, and first-quarter sales were below their 1995 peak of $1.85 billion, CEA statistics show.
March’s gain followed single-digit gains in January and February of 8.8 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
Here’s how each category fared in March and the first quarter:
March’s industry gains were led by a rebounding component audio business, which grew an astounding 68.9 percent in March to $116 million and by 26.2 percent in the first quarter to $257.7 million following a full-year 2003 decline of 18.4 percent. Despite the gains, first-quarter component sales were below levels posted in every year in the 1990s and 2000s except for 2003.
Portables sales, including home radios, shot up 47.9 percent in March to $183.3 million and by 37.1 percent in the first quarter to $400.2 million.
Home audio systems:
Sales skyrocketed 42.4 percent in March to $151.5 million, but declines in January and February held back first-quarter growth to 7.4 percent. First-quarter volume was $331.3 million.
Total home audio:
Combined sales of home components and systems rose 52.8 percent in March to $267.5 million and 14.9 percent in the first quarter to $589 million, but first-quarter sales were still below their 1995 peak of $747.7 million.
Aftermarket sales jumped 12.6 percent in March to $244.4 million, helping drive up first-quarter sales by 8.1 percent to a record $637.7 million.