Listen up, Santa: Headphones, speakers topping Americans' holid - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Listen up, Santa: Headphones, speakers topping Americans' holiday gift lists

Posted: Updated:
Headphones, speakers and other audio gear are topping the holiday gift lists of many Americans. Headphones, speakers and other audio gear are topping the holiday gift lists of many Americans.

ATLANTA (AP) — 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.

This photo provided by Beats by Dr. Dre shows Beats Studio Wireless plush set of over-ear headphones that almost exactly mirror Beats' popular Studio line, updated this summer, but comes with wireless ability. (AP Photo/Beats by Dr. Dre)

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."

  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 8:55 AM EDT2014-08-27 12:55:56 GMT
    Gadsden's Mayor Sherman Guyton wins reelection with 56% of the votes. The city also voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales with over a 2-1 ratio; 68% to 32%.More >>
    Gadsden's Mayor Sherman Guyton wins reelection with 56% of the votes. The city also voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales with over a 2-1 ratio; 68% to 32%.More >>
  • Anniston police and fire departments downsized by proposed budget cuts

    Anniston police and fire departments downsized by proposed budget cuts

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-08-27 00:01:02 GMT
    The Anniston city manager's proposed budget for 2015 cuts more than $1.5-million in spending compared to this year. The police and fire chiefs are concerned about the cuts to public safety.More >>
    The Anniston city manager's proposed budget for 2015 cuts more than $1.5-million in spending compared to this year. The police and fire chiefs are concerned about the cuts to public safety.
    More >>
  • Third anniversary of murder of Anniston police officer

    Third anniversary of murder of Anniston police officer

    Monday, August 25 2014 8:44 PM EDT2014-08-26 00:44:45 GMT
    The family of Justin Sollohub took him off of life support three years ago Monday. "He lived from the 24th to the 25th for the organ donation," Jeniffer Morris said about her son. "Organ donation needs to be important to everybody. We never know, when there's somebody in our [family], when it hits home, that somebody needs an organ. It is important to us but it needs to be important to everybody."More >>
    The family of Justin Sollohub took him off of life support three years ago Monday. "He lived from the 24th to the 25th for the organ donation," Jeniffer Morris said about her son. "Organ donation needs to be important to everybody. We never know, when there's somebody in our [family], when it hits home, that somebody needs an organ. It is important to us but it needs to be important to everybody."More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...