Christmas was strong for many leading car stereo specialists, although some suffered due to the warm weather that led to lower sales of remote starters—a Christmas staple for many car electronics retailers.
ChristmasWhere last December, the snow was 4 feet deep in parts of New England, this year the weather was often Spring-like, and so remote starters were not on shopper’s lists.
Nevertheless ABT, Glenview, IL said Christmas sales were up a little over last year. Freeman’s Stereo Video, Charlotte, N.C., was up 7 percent in dollars for all of December compared to last year. Columbus Car Audio, Columbus, OH was flat with last year, but still happy with the result.
“We had a great December last year and so we are fine with flat and we anticipate we’ll be way up in January,” said a spokesman, noting that remote start sales should spike once the cold sets in.
Many retailers said shoppers waited for the week before Christmas to come out in full force. Some did well in in-dash navigation, while others said that segment was slow.
Car Toys, Seattle, WA and The Specialists of Tucson, AZ reported strong gains.
Car Toys said it enjoyed double digit same store sales growth this year with strong sales in alarms, remote start and bass re-enforcement.
The Specialists said Christmas week sales were up 15 percent over the year prior. “Christmas falling on Sunday was a plus. The Friday before was the best day of our entire year,” said President Charlie Weisel. For the full season, starting on Thanksgiving, The Specialists sales were up almost 8 percent.
But in some cold weather regions, sales tended to dip.
Duke’s Car Stereo, Flint, MI said sales were down 10 percent due to the warm weather and corresponding lack of remote start sales.
Sound FX, West Warwick, RI also said sales were down due mainly to warm weather. VP operations Mark D’Elia said customers were buying entry level products rather than upgrade models. “Economically, it really seemed like it was painful this year for most people coming in.”
However, he said, “We had a banner year last year. It was one of the best year’s we’ve ever seen. But this year we’ve had strings of 50-degree days… When you bat 400 last year and only bat 350 this year, you can’t look at it as a negative.” He also hopes for a strong season once the cold weather finally sets in.
Bloomberg said general holiday sales will rise 3.8 percent compared with a 5.2 percent increase last year. Unemployment and lower home prices continue to weigh on consumers.