December Caps Strong Year in Video Sales

According to recent statistics released by the Consumer Electronics Association, manufacturer-to-dealer sales of video products grew by 28.6% in December, totaling just under 5.6 million units and rounding out a year of growth in the category. The CEA also reports that total sales of video products in 1999 topped 60 million units, increasing by 22% over 1998. In addition, the numbers indicate that virtually every category (with the exception of direct-view color TVs) experienced double-digit increases for the year.

The CEA says that the sales gains made in individual categories were even more impressive: Sales of direct-view color TVs in 1999 rose by 5%, to a year-end total of 23.2 million units, the subcategory's best shipment year since 1995. VCR sales increased by 26%, to 22.8 million units—the best year for VCRs ever, "and by a tremendous margin." Sales of TV/VCR combinations reached 366,170 units in the month, a 30% increase over last December, bringing total year sales more than 40% ahead of 1998. Camcorders had a particularly strong month, with sales increasing by 72% over last December.

The CEA reports that one of the more significant aspects of video sales in 1999 was the growth of home-theater products. The numbers reveal that sales of projection TVs increased by more than 15% for the year, and sales of direct-view TVs 29" and larger grew by 11%. These figures, claims the CEA, as well as the fact that sales of stereo VCRs (more than half of all VCRs) increased by 27%, all point to consumers' fast-growing interest in the home-theater experience.

Another factor that the CEA feels contributed to the home-theater trend was the product that "realized the most explosive growth by far" in the video category: DVD players. During 1999, the CEA reports that DVD players became the fastest-selling product in the history of consumer electronics (based on sales during the first three years of a product's introduction), with sales topping 4 million units.