The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

December 23, 2013

Headphones, speakers top gift lists

ATLANTA — Listen up, Santa. Headphones, speakers and other audio gear are topping the holiday gift lists of many Americans.

Audio equipment is among the top-selling electronics gifts this holiday season, accounting for 13 percent of the $8 billion in consumer electronics sales between Nov. 24 and Dec. 7, according to research firm NPD Group.

Headphone sales rose 14 percent. Sales of sound bars, long, thin speakers that create surround sound, grew 80 percent. And wireless speaker sales nearly quadrupled.

The trend is being driven in part by the economy. Audio gear, which can range from $10 for ear buds to thousands of dollars for a home theater system, is being considered by some an affordable luxury during a still shaky economy.

Americans also have spent the last several years buying tablets, smartphones and TVs. Now, many are looking for ways to squeeze better sound from those gadgets.

"It stands to reason that people at some point want a better audio experience than the ear buds you get in the box," said Ben Arnold, NPD's director of industry analysis.

Indeed, Drew Smith, 21, began coveting better headphones when he got an iPhone 5 in August. Now, headphones are the only big present he's asking his parents for.

"Because of my smartphone, I listen to more music and ... I want a good set," said Smith, a cinema manager who lives in Paragoule, Ark.

Likewise, Adam Daniels, 23, a commercial banker from Sharonville, Ohio, decided to buy a Phillips sound bar for his parents for Christmas after they purchased a 50-inch TV.

"They have a great TV, but the audio on it is terrible," he said.

The trend this season is a continuation of an audio craze that started last year. That's when Beats by Dr. Dre, oversize headphones that come in different colors and run about $200 per pair, became the "it" holiday gift.

Beats doesn't give sales figures. But the company said it grew its share of the market for headphones over $99 from 71 percent last year to 78 percent this year.

Some competitors also have upped their sound game. This year, stores and analysts say Bowers Wilkins, Bose, Jawbone and JBL all are among those offering more products, colors and stylish designs.

"Audio has been really popular this holiday," said Josh Davis, manager of Abt Electronics, a large electronics store in Chicago. "Last year, it seemed like all anyone wanted was Beats ... But we're seeing good competition this year among other brands."

At the same time, prices have fallen for some audio gear. For instance, the average selling price for wireless speakers dropped 33 percent to $73 this year compared with last year, according to NPD. And Best Buy, Amazon and other stores have offered deep discounts on some audio gear.

Target, which says sales of headphones, wireless speakers and sound bars have "increased significantly" this year, offered deals on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. They included the Beats Solo HD Headphones for $119 from $179.99; Sony Bluetooth speakers for $49.99 from $89.99; and a JBL sound bar for $99.99 from $199.

The deals influenced Rob Patak, 29, to give headphones as gifts for his roommate and friend. Patak, a customer support manager at a software company in Washington, D.C., bought wireless speakers art Marshall's for $20. And when he saw Amazon was offering $50 off $100 Plantronics Backbeat Go headphones, he snapped up two pairs.

Price was also a consideration for Jeremy Sylestine, 34, a prosecutor in Austin, Texas. He had been searching for a sound bar for his 40-inch TV last year but couldn't find one for a good price. This year, though, he bought a Samsung sound bar for $184, which was $70 off the original price.

"It was the only thing that was on my list," Sylestine said, adding that he found "basically an unbeatable price."

1
Text Only
Features
  • 4-17-14 Trees forever photo 2 Let it grow (with Video)

    CLINTON - A new generation of trees will be planted by a young generation of Irish. Wednesday during class, Lisa Golden's Prince of Peace Prep third-graders continued their year-long biology education with the help of Clinton's Trees Forever organiza

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Communities prep for hunts CLINTON -- Easter weekend is nearly here and two local organizations are calling all children for the hunting event of the year -- Easter egg hunting that is. Both Camanche and Fulton, Ill., will host Easter egg hunts Saturday, each at different time

    April 17, 2014

  • Women's Expo set for Tuesday at Wild Rose CLINTON -- It is time again to gather the girlfriends and head out to the Ultimate Spring Women's Expo at the Wild Rose Event Center in Clinton. The third annual expo from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, hosted by the Clinton Herald, offers an opportuni

    April 14, 2014

  • Fulton housing loan Program to assist Fulton resident FULTON, Ill. -- Brian Hollenback and Beth Payne delivered good news last week, traveling to seven cities, three counties and two states, ending their journey in Fulton. Hollenback, who is the Northwestern Illinois Housing Coalition president, and its

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stutting Camanche native tapped to head North Scott schools CLINTON -- A Camanche native will return to his roots this June, after being selected as the new superintendent for the North Scott Community School District. Joe Stutting, a 1987 graduate of Camanche High School, has been away from his hometown for

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • preview-1.jpg Luau raises funds to support programming

    CLINTON -- Hundreds of supporters and volunteers gathered Friday night to endorse a lifesaving organization in the Gateway area. The 10th annual Gateway Area Red Cross Luau kicked off the night at the Tuscany Event Center at Rastrelli's with a buffet

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anderson Meet Your Neighbor: Gardening serves multiple purposes

    CLINTON -- For Kathy Anderson, gardening is something she has always enjoyed. "For as long as I remember, I have been obsessed with being outside," Kathy said. "My mother never had to ask twice for me to go outside and play." At 5 and 6 years old, Ka

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • Longman.jpg Stars and stripes to fly at half-staff

    Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. today until 8 a.m. Monday in honor of a World War II airman, whose remains were recovered more than 70 years after being killed in action.
    Lt. Louis L. Longman, a 26-year old at the time he was last seen April 16, 1944, was a Clinton native. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps Air Force and when he was last seen, his unit was returning from a B-25 bomber escort mission over Hollandia, New Guinea.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • 4-10-14 Take Back the Night photos 04 Take Back the Night seeks change

    CLINTON -- Marcia Lathrop and Kris Ayala have witnessed and experienced sexual abuse and domestic violence. According to Clinton YWCA Executive Director Shannon Sander-Welzien, someone is raped in this country every 1.3 seconds. On average, a child w

    April 10, 2014 5 Photos

Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Facebook