With COVID-19 cases rising in some states, we asked dealers in hard hit areas if car audio sales have declined.
Ironically, car audio chains in hard hit states reported continued strong, and often record sales. But in the Northeast, where COVID-19 is currently contained, some chains noted a slight decline in store traffic or sales.
Hiru Moolchandani, President of 3-store Avenue Sound, NY said sales were down “a tad bit” in the past two weeks. She said, “I kind of attribute it to the fact that in our market there’s more options now and people are shopping around now and there’s more choices for entertainment that are now open.” She added, “The numbers are not bad, but not rocking and rolling like they were a few weeks ago.”
The store traffic and phone calls have declined at Jo-Di’s Sound Centers, CT. General Manager Jodi O’Connor said average ticket sales are up by a few hundred dollars but the flow of traffic and phone calls is down.”I’ve been told that’s true throughout all of New England,” she added.
On the other hand, chains in Texas and Florida said there’s been no slowdown.
The exception may be Texas, where a few stores reported slower sales once COVID cases began to spike at the end of June.
Just prior to the July 4 holiday, Custom Sounds, TX, with about 20 stores, reported no recent impact to sales. Audio Express, based in AZ, with approximately 20 stores and Freeman’s Car Stereo, NC with 7 stores also said at that time, there had been no change.
Freeman’s, Handcrafted Car Audio, AZ and Soundcrafters, FL each closed June with record sales. Soundcrafters also saw no change in sales, nor did a few other shops we polled in FL and AZ.
We checked back with Soundcrafters and 5 Star Car Audio, FL on July 7 and sales were still strong with no sign of a slowdown.
But a few stores in Texas said foot traffic and sales were slightly down, including The Sound Connection, Laredo, TX.
Tint World said it has seen no ill effects from rising COVID cases and it has about 15 franchises in hard hit Texas and many in Florida. It noted its second quarter sales were 30 percent higher than its first quarter sales. “We’ve had two months of consecutive weekly sales record growth,” said Chief Strategy Officer Paul Pirro.
Audio Express is concerned that some states may shut down again. President John Link noted, “Traffic is the same since we reopened, but the Governor is starting to close things down and we’re just holding our breath.” The chain was closed for months earlier in the pandemic. Link however is hopeful that stores practicing social distancing and other precautions will be able to remain open. “Yesterday, they closed gyms, bars and waterparks, but I think anything that’s 50 [capacity] or under… I don’t think they’ll mess with…My biggest concern right now is product. The vendors can’t deliver. It’s getting scary.”
Vendors are saying product will be available in July or August, but they are not locking down a date. Other retailers confirmed they are not getting firm dates on new product delivery and expressed the same concerns.
Meanwhile, many dealers continue to see sales and traffic as never before.
Soundcrafters said it reached its quota for June by the middle of the month and is booked through the second week of August “with paid sales up front. It’s crazy. I haven’t experienced anything like this in my 42 years,” said President Paul Papadeas. Recently, he opened the doors to the shop at 9 am and there were six people waiting on top of those with appointments.
Handcrafted owner Jon Kowanetz said a customer offered him $500 to fit him into the installation schedule and he’s had other customers offering a $100 to do the same. One customer gave him a credit card to outfit his motorcycle, asking only that the sound system cap at $10,000 with no invoice on the job.
Five Star Car Stereo said it is booked until the middle of August and has seen no slowdown. “It seems like it’s the 90’s all over again only you just don’t have enough equipment to sell,” said Installer Dean Beyett.