As in recent years online sales continued to grow e.g. by 20% for ‘home audio’, though more costly hi fi separates are likely to figure very little in this change. For TV Soundbars continue to show a striking 100% growth this displacing lower ranked and costly 5.1 arrangements. Soundbars have replaced docks in the growth stakes rising from 28,000in ’09 to 67,000 in 2011 to 500,000 by end 2013. Soundbases are growing but are still running at just 40,000 units per annum.
For audio while sales of lower cost amplifiers, receivers, and portable MP3 were falling at between 20 to 40%, more expensive headphone sales held up, while connected audio and audio systems, docks and the more costly headphones increased their sales volume.
While Hi Fi separates (here including Soundbars) had peaked at £419m in 2001 and had fallen to about £170m for 2010-2012, surely by the end of 2013reflecting the depth of the recession, they are now on the rise to £221m, almost back to the 2005 pre recession level. We should perhaps note that here the sound bar contribution is substantial. 500,000 Soundbars were sold in 2013, just over double the previous year by value and some 2.5times greater by volume. Whilst talking about TV, the average panel screen size is still rising, from 21.5” in 2000 to 25.4in for 2005, to 30in for 2010 to 33.3in for 2013.
Bluetooth connectivity took 82% of the streaming audio component market by value in 2013 and is still growing while by contrast Airplay barely lifted off the near zero line.
From a historically low baseline the still significant analogue turntable market, remains in slow decline though it had more recently peaked at 74,000 units for 2010 beating the recession. It nevertheless remains respectable for 2013 with 48,000 units sold. The present sales value of this sector held at £7 million for the UK, this almost matching the 2010 figure by value.
Products (including smartphones) that can stream and control audio to sound systems grew massively for 486,000 to 1.88 million units in the past two years. This is spurring growth in generalised connected home audio of all kinds.
Headphones showed a split from the trend actually falling by about 15% both by volume and value from 2012, partly felt to be due to approaching saturation, as nearly 55% of consumers already have a set.
However in this market cordless or wireless versions showed real growth especially from Bluetooth equipped models: another reflection of the increasing popularity of cordless control and connection.
A further finding was the heavy saturation of models in the UK headphone arena with 80 types now competing for every single headphone demo space in shops! Some brands are helping to pay for their retail space, squeezing out smaller operators.
Showing the fickle nature of the mass headphone market, food supermarkets became major suppliers with an 18% growth by value. Conversely while online headphone sales held, in-store headphone purchases fell a surprising £27 million last year. Encouragingly for high fidelity items, here the 2013 growth sector was for models over £150; sales of higher quality audio separates remained steady.