12V Sales: Is the Stimulus Working?

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Is the Stimulus boosting 12 volt sales

Based on many interviews and postings on the Mobile Electronics Syndicate, it appears this latest round of stimulus has caused yet another surge in car audio, but not for all dealers and the boost in sales is not as dramatic as last spring.

That said, for some the boom has been staggering.  Memphis Car Audio said March was the best month in the company’s history with the possible exceptions of similar months in the heyday of the 2000s.  Memphis President Nick LoMonaco attributed the boom to the new stimulus and unemployment payments.  Even still, the company would have sold more if it were not for product shortages and slower shipping times, he said.

Some dealers say sales have been so strong for so many months that it’s difficult to tell if the current surge is just a continuation of the past year’s surge.

Many dealers also mention they are limited in what they can sell due to shortages.

John Coleman of the 5-store Stereo King in Portland, OR said, “It’s been on fire for some time so it’s hard to tell. I can’t tell you if there’s an uptick necessarily, but we’re cruising a good 30 to 35 percent up over last year, not counting the downturn weeks.”

He added, “It’s encouraging to see that our industry really has relevance to the consumers. Now I’m convinced that people do want car audio; it’s that they are distracted by other things they can spend their money on.  We as retailers have to make sure we stay engaged and keep promoting…Now is the time to promote and make sure the consumer knows who we are.”

As of late March, SoundFX, West Warwick, RI was also seeing record sales.  “We’re never this busy in March,” said Mark D’Elia. “We’re four weeks out for appointments. No discounts….All I can say is I think the car audio train has a lot of momentum right now….Things in motion tend to stay in motion. People tell their friends; it becomes a thing to do…. I think you’ll see robust business for the next couple of years. I think we’re in the middle of a renaissance of car audio.”

Ray Baldwin of Baldwin Electronics, Odessa, TX said, the stimulus money hit one day towards the end of March. Suddenly, there were lines at the bank in his town and sales picked up.  “It’s not a boom. We’re still dealing with the oil industry; in this area, there’s been a lot of lay offs and sales slowed down.  This has helped make up for that,” he said.

Audio Systems of Moreno Valley, CA usually sees jobs from $5,000 to $10,000 but in recent weeks, it is seeing more walk-ins asking for radios, which may be due to the stimulus. Plus the shop has seen a 20 percent jump in the average ticket price on systems, according to Manager Anthony Carranza.

Audio Designs & Custom Graphics; Jacksonville, FL had a record month in March overall. Manufacturer’s Rep Trent Partners said many of its suppliers reported a record March, as well.

Columbus Car Audio, Columbus, OH had “crushed March numbers” last year with a week to go in March and Tint Pro Window Tinting, Lincoln Park, MI more than doubled sales over last March. Speed of Sound Technologies, Milford, CT is going “non-stop.”

Audio Addiction, Pittsburgh, PA said “sales are way up,” due to the stimulus plus tax returns.

On the flip side, as of early April, a handful of retailers said they hadn’t seen any stimulus bump nor recent boost in sales.

Boomdidit out of Rockford, IL said the stimulus hasn’t hit yet. The shop said it is out of tier one radios in any case.  “We’ve been living off alarms and remote starters,” said Boomer Johnson.

Photo: SoundFX East Providence, RI store

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