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Q1: Imports Show Upswing Is Underway

...of imports of musical instruments and sound equipment increased 14.3%. Gains were spread across a wide range of products including: vertical pianos +23.3%, acoustic guitars under $299 retail +35.9%, acoustic guitars over $299 retail +29.6%, ukuleles +17.2%, portable keyboards under $200 retail +42%, and portable keyboards over $200 retail +43%. The all-important School Music Category also saw import gains that totaled 13.6% as measured in units. Within the category, gains were varied: brasswinds +1%, clarinets +14.3%, saxophones +18.9%, flutes +63%, and stringed instruments +4.5%. Imports of drums reversed five quarters of declines with a 25.7% increase for the three-month period. The pro audio category continued with gains as well: power amps +3.9%, microphones +9.5%, single speaker enclosures +26%, and multiple speaker enclosures -.1%.

Import declines were limited to electric guitars -12.7%, cymbals -22.8%, and grand pianos -7.5%.

Average pricing for almost all categories is on the rise as well, led by increasing costs for gear imported from China. From grand pianos produced in China, which increased in price 8.3% compared to the year-earlier period, to brasswinds that increased 5.4%, most categories experienced a significant price increase. For the quarter, China remains the leading source of musical instruments and sound equipment imported to the United States, followed by Japan, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

Data revealed in this report highlights four years of imports for the first quarter, giving readers a firsthand look at how the industry is recovering from the recession.

For complete data and analysis, order the new Import Tracker report!

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