March 2020 seems like a long time ago. Or it seems like just yesterday. Time distorts in a pandemic. But when COVID-19 and resulting stay-at-home orders started to spread across the country, consumers immediately panicked and stopped spending (except for hand sanitizer and toilet paper, which quickly sold out). MI SalesTrak recorded the largest single-month drop in sales volume we have ever seen, with year-over-year declines vs. March 2019 in almost all MI product categories.

By early April, something interesting and beneficial to the MI industry started to happen. Consumer data indicated that people who were stuck at home were spending more on hobbies and music. Online retailers were seeing sales double, constrained only by issues in fulfilling the orders.  At the same time, many storefronts remained closed and doing zero business. Most retailers were in between, increasing their online presence and providing local delivery and curbside pickup to keep the cash registers ringing. And ring they did! Sales of “play-at-home” instruments, particularly guitars and keyboards actually registered increases vs. April 2019. So did the music production and home studio categories. But, with concerts and live events canceled, live sound reinforcement and wireless microphones saw even steeper declines than in March.

May and June saw those trends continue. Sales of guitars, keyboards, production and home studio gear skyrocketed. Sadly, with live events still “on hold,” the market for live sound equipment has remained deeply affected. But we remain optimistic that the power of music will prevail and live presentation of music may change, but never disappear.

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