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Video Sales Set Records In April

Video hardware marketers celebrated the coming of spring with a spectacular April sales-to-dealers performance, setting an all-time monthly high for DVD players and new April highs as well as record annualized sales rates for all other products except direct-view color, according to CEMA figures.

Nonetheless, direct-view color had its best monthly performance of this year in April, with shipments dipping just 0.8% from the same month last year to 1.58 million and putting the four-month total at 6.18 million, off 3.1%. Despite the decline, the indicated seasonally adjusted annual color selling rate in April was a healthy 24.3 million, well ahead of the cumulative four-month rate of 22.5 million.

TV/VCR sales jumped 41.9% to 326,700 and were up 46.6% to 1.15 million for the full period. The annualized selling rate for the month was an ultra-strong 4.9 million and lifted the full-period rate to 4.4 million.

Projection TV turned in an even stronger performance, with a solid 43.2% rise to 82,200. Four-month sales rose 18.2% to 318,800. The April annualized selling rate for projection was nearly 1.8 million, and the four-month rate stood at 1.3 million.

VCR decks, bolstered by shipments of a massive 883,000 in the month’s final week (see Video Sales Scorecard, p. 17) as well as by giveaway pricing, came in at 1.89 million in April, up 52.4%, the biggest such increase since 1992.

Sales for the year-through-April stood sat 5.93 million, up 25.7%. The April selling rate was an incredible 29.2 million, and the four-month rate was an equally impressive 23 million, holding out the possibility that 1999 may be the year VCR sales exceed those of color TV.

Camcorders joined in the growth with a 17.6% April shipment rise to 456,300, for a four-month total of 1.36 million, up 11.2%. And those figures exclude shipments of digital camcorders. The indicated selling rate for the month was 5.7 million and put the four-month rate at 4.9 million.

DVD sales exploded in April, coming in at 269,100. That was up 527.4% from the same month last year and was just enough to put the cumulative historic sales total just over the 2 million level. Sales for the first four months were up 354.9% to 680,100. Using the VCR sales history as a guide, April DVD sales were at a record high annualized rate of 4.2 million, and the rate stood at 2.6 million for the year’s first four months.