12 Volt Shortages Get Scary

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Car Audio Product Shortages

As car audio product shortages continue, some dealers are nearing desperation.

Retailers speak of being unable to reach distributors who have simply stopped answering the phone due to a lack of product.

Some dealers are wondering if it makes sense to shut the store in August.

Still others say they are managing to juggle inventory but are concerned that if the short supply continues, they will begin to walk sales.

All major head unit companies are said to be in short supply. Amplifiers are nearly as hard to get as a new iPhone five years ago. Many types of accessories including wiring and dash kits are in such short supply they are causing retailers to lose some head unit sales.

BoomDidIt with two stores in the Chicago area said most car audio product at his local distributors are sold out.  “I can’t get product.  There are no 10- or 12-inch woofers in the City of Chicago,” said Owner Boomer Johnson. BoomdDidIt buys almost exclusively through distributors.  “I can’t get mid-level Pioneer; there is no Kenwood, JVC or Sony.”  His sales are down 80 percent compared to last year because of lack of product.

Not every dealer agreed with BoomDidIt, but nearly all expressed some problems with inventory.

Omar Jawad, Owner of Sound Depot & Performance Tinting , FL said, “It’s getting scary now.” Like other retailers he’s resorted to buying accessory kits on Amazon and sometimes even Amazon is sold out. It’s starting to cost the store sales.  He can’t locate a kit for an installation for a 2016 Impala which could lose him a $1200 radio and backup camera sale.

A leading executive said that some of the corporate headquarters in Japan simply didn’t believe there was truly a sales boom in the US, because it did not occur in many other countries.  “They didn’t order necessary parts back in April and now they are realizing there really is this level of demand and they are reacting. I think supplies will be much better in August and significantly better beyond that and back to normal in October.”  He said the worst of the shortage is now through about July 20.

car amplifiers see more tariffs

Car audio amplifiers are short industrywide.

Jodi O’Connor, General Manager of Jo-Di’s Sound Centers, CT just wants honest estimated delivery times from suppliers. “We have to get answers. What I’ve been told is that once something leaves China, it’s 55 days between the boat ride and customs, and getting it into the warehouses and shipping it back out.  If China has been closed and nothing has left there yet, does that mean I’m still 55 days away from getting any brand you want to pick?”

She continued, “Knowledge puts any of us back in the driver seats of our business. I want to know if it makes sense for us to close our stores for the month of August. It’s getting frustrating.”

Scott Fricker, VP of American Radio with 6 stores based in GA, said the supply situation is “Terrible.” But he noted that the supply problems are not limited to car audio.  “We do trailer hitches and manufacturers can’t get any steel to make the hitches.  You’re seeing new car dealers who don’t have inventory. The shortages are everywhere.  We’re not at the point we’re losing sales, but I’m not sure what we’re going to do next month.”

At least one major supplier said he expects full supplies in September.  He had resorted to air freighting in some product in June but was hit with triple the normal fees for air freight. Fortunately, air freight costs have begun to drop in July, he said, although his air freight budget is now nearly depleted.

But we note, that not a single top supplier would speak on the record about when to expect full supplies, and some did not respond at all to our inquiries.

Maxxsonics, which sells brands including Hifonics and MB Quart, said inventory has been flying out the door almost as fast as it comes in. But CEO Alden Stiefel said many large containers are due here in the the next 2 to 3 weeks.  “All amplifiers are short,” he said of the general car audio market.

 SounDigital said it is air shipping in amplifiers and its factory is at full production.  It also distributes the Ground Zero brand which is in good stock.  DS 18 also has good supplies it said.

Photo credit: KCOY



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