Before COVID-19, Musaic, the custom audiophile division of SoundFX, Lewes, DE had an average ticket price of $10,000 to $25,000 for an audio system. Since the pandemic, the shop’s average build has soared up to $60,000.
“I think more people are on YouTube with time to waste. I’ve seen a huge increase in jobs and the quality of jobs,” said Lead Fabricator Matt Schaeffer. “Right now we’re putting a $60,000 audio system into a Jeep Wrangler.” He’s also starting on a $60,000 system for a Porsche 911 GTS and before that, Musaic installed an $85,000 system in an Escalade.
Part of the reason for the hike in system prices, is that people feel comfortable with no-contact delivery of the car, as most are shipping the car from out of state, he said. “There’s not a whole lot of interaction. They feel comfortable with what they’ve see online and don’t have to go to a store. They ship their car and the rest is taken care of,” said Schaeffer. The shop is booked out until November.
Average ticket sales are also on the rise at more typical car audio shops.
At Stereo West Auto Toys, in Omaha, NE the average ticket is now $420, up from $280 before the pandemic. Ticket prices would be higher but the shop does a lot of window tint, and a typical window tint ticket is $150. “We probably do 10 to 15 window tints a day,” said Owner Brian Hampson. Recently, Stereo West Auto Toys has done a handful of $7,000 plus boat systems. “In Nebraska, we only have rivers, so that’s a big deal for us,” he added.
Dan Bowman, who was Store Manager of Hot Rides in Morrisville, PA (and just switched to a position at Titan Motoring, Nashville, TN) said average ticket sales at Hot Rides have been rising, in part, because the shop is running out of inventory on lower end product. “People are unwilling to wait and are reaching up into the high dollar product.” He added, “We do wheels and tires and suspension work and exhaust, but I am seeing more people willing to spend more money on audio. It used to be they’d spend up to $1,800 or land at $2,500 doing stuff in factory locations. Now we’re seeing instead, they land on $$3,500, $3,800 or $4,000.”
Some customers have been wanting to upgrade the audio for a long time, “but they may not have had the ability to shake their vehicle loose for a few days. Then you have the people that are seeing they have more money left in their pocket now that they don’t have power lunch costs, dry cleaning or going out to dinner…. They are working from home, making the same money and have more expendable income,” Bowman added.
The shortages in $199 decks are leading to more sales of $299 decks, said Mehdi Narimanian of President of Sound of Tri-State, DE. Average ticket sales are up by 20 percent at the shop since the pandemic. “The best thing that happened was a shortage on $199 in-dash, which forced all of us to automatically recommend $299, and higher end in-dash units. To our surprise, consumers were more than happy to pay for these step up units,” he said. “Same thing is happening in other categories.”
Performance Auto Sound, WA went from an average sales ticket of $250 to $350.
AudioControl confirmed the trend to higher end product and said, “…we are seeing certainly a willingness to spend more and more often in their vehicles right across our processing and amp categories,” according to CEO Alex Camara.
Photo: Musaic ultra high end Escalade build.