July Audio Sales Take Steep Downward Slide

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July's factory-level audio sales plunged at a faster rate than they did during any year in the previous decade, dropping 9.8 percent to $618 million, their lowest level in seven years, according to statistics from the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA). Year-to-date sales were off 6.7 percent to $4.23 billion.

During the 1990-2000 period, July sales fell four times, with the steepest drop of 3.8 percent occurring in 1996. Other years posting declines were 1993 with 2 percent, followed by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent drops in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

Sales in all four major audio segments declined in July, led by a 21.1 percent plunge in portable audio sales to $176 million, their lowest level since July 1991's $174 million.

Here's how the segments fared in July and during the first seven months of 2001:

Aftermarket autosound: In their first July drop in five years, autosound sales slipped 2.4 percent to $165 million. With sales slipping in five of seven months to date, year-to-date sales were off 1.1 percent to $1.28 billion.

Home systems: In their first decline since 1995, July's system sales slid 2.9 percent to $175 million, contributing to a year-to-date 1.9 percent decline to $1.03 billion. One bright spot: Sales of home theater electronics/speaker packages rose 99 percent to $65.8 million.

Home components: Although sales dropped 9.5 percent to $102 million, the decline was the smallest monthly decline of the year. Sales fell during five of the previous six months at double-digit rates. As a result, year-to-date sales were down 12.8 percent to $732 million.

Total home audio (components plus systems): With system sales holding up relatively better than component sales, July's combined sales slipped only 5.4 percent to $277 million. Cumulative sales were off 6.7 percent to $1.76 billion.

Portable audio: July's 21.1 percent plunge to $176 million wasn't the steepest drop of the year. That happened in May, when sales fell 21.3 percent. Year-to-date sales were off 12 percent to $1.19 billion.

July Factory-Level Audio Sales

(In Millions)

Category

July

Year-To-Date

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