With Apologies to 12V Specialists

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car stereo installer Cartronix, IN

On Wednesday, we stated that the traditional aftermarket car audio categories such as head units, amplifiers and speakers are shrinking.

We based this on data from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and The NPD Group. But it was brought to our attention, that data gathered by the Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) shows a different picture when it comes to the car audio specialist channel.

MEA collects data from about 1,000 12 volt specialists.  It believes there are about 4,600 12 volt storefronts in the US, so it’s collecting from about 22 percent of them.

From 2015 until the present, MEA has tracked a slight increase overall in car audio sales.  “There are less transactions and higher dollars per transaction,” said MEA President Chris Cook.

He added, “The specialty channel isn’t tracked at all except for us. I don’t know anyone who tracks the amount of retailers that we do.”

Looking at this year, first quarter year over year sales were down slightly, said MEA.  The average transaction, however, was up 5 percent year over year, Cook said.  “Which means retailers are maximizing the sale.”

“I have a positive outlook on the industry. The retailers that go to KnowledgeFest and learn are growing their business.  That’s what they report in surveys each time….I get a constant flow of them calling, emailing and messaging me, realizing that they can make more money,” Cook added.

NPD, which tracks mass merchants and other channels of the car audio market said car audio dollar sales (to consumers) fell 9 percent last year and 12 percent in 2017.

Looking at CTA data wholesale for autosound (excluding mobile video) since 2010, sales have dropped by half from $1.36 billion to $779 million  (half of the shortfall has been made up by driver safety equipment, as stated in last paragraph of this post).  For mobile video (which includes AV decks, and we exclude portable navigation devices) sales in 2010 were $352 million and have increased to $361 million today.

The CTA now tracks advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) including blindspot detectors, dashcams, cameras, and crash warning devices, which it pegs at $395 million for 2018.


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