Retailers are changing their approach to car radio merchandising.
With profits on the category down at most retailers, specialists are cutting back on the number of units they display or sell in addition to focusing on other categories such as marine audio.
Al & Ed’s Autosound with about 20 franchise locations in Southern, CA said its head unit sales (all types combined including AV and AV/navigation) are flat with last year but dollar sales are down by 15 percent in all radios combined.
At Custom Sounds, Austin, TX with 16 stores, head unit sales are off by 9 percent in dollars and 7 percent in units.
Overall all head units (all types combined) were down by 9 percent in dollars last year compared to 2011, said The NPD Group.
3-store Mobile One of New Orleans once displayed 48 radios in each of his 3 demo rooms. The store has cut that down by more than half. It put a marine display in one room to make up the difference. And it created single-vendor displays to fill in the assortment.
Single vendor displays are also now used at Mickey Shorr. Over the past two years, the chain has set up individual displays for brands including Kenwood, Pioneer, JL Audio and Rockford.
Display maker Avidworx recommends showing only 8 to 16 head units for the entire store. “The days of 24 to 36 head unit on display are gone,” said Avidworx head Marcel Newell.
Al & Ed’s cut down the number of head units its displays to about 20 to 25 per store, down from 30 or 40. In most stores, it carries 2 Double Din navigation models, one video deck and 3 to 4 CD players for each brand. However, its warehouse stocks “everything” to compete with the web, and serve customers who come in asking for a specific model.
Custom Sounds is stocking 5 percent fewer head units.
3-store Sound of Tri-State admits it has way too many single DIN head units on display and plans to create more double DIN displays. President Mehdi Narimanian is not a fan of single vendor displays because it’s hard to demonstrate the sound differences. “The customers get confused.”
Beach Auto Sound’s in-dash navigation radio sales are up, even though navigation industry-wide is down. “I think it’s because we’re not scared to sell it. We don’t automatically assume people won’t spend $1,200. …if you take the customer to the cheapest one that’s what they will buy or if you say, ‘This is really expensive,’ you’ll put a negative spin on it,” said General Manager Tom Sweere.