Piano & Keyboard Dealer Survey – Still Riding the Rollercoaster
It would be fair to characterize the piano market in recent years as… challenging. Higher ticket items just don’t fare well when the economy tanks and since around late 2007 the nation has, collectively, spent some serious time in a pretty deep “tank.”
However, in recent months, there have been more and more of those small signs suggesting that recovery is around the corner – or may already be in full effect. So how’s that panning out for piano & keyboard dealers? We surveyed over 300 retail outlets to answer just that question. The results are mixed, to be sure, but – generally speaking – of a more positive nature than in recent years.
Some of the “raw data” remained largely unchanged, compared to a similar questionnaire sent out in the winter of 2011 (33 percent report sales are up, exactly the same as last year), but it’s significant (one hopes…) that, while 37 percent of dealers surveyed said that their sales were down in ‘11, this year that figure dropped to 23 percent. Many respondents noted a true increase in buyer actively lately. “There are many more customers entering the market now than in recent years,” said Eric Murray of Shoreline Piano In North Brandford, Conn.
In short, much like the overall economy, things are beginning to look up (please?), but it’s not time to break out the champagne just yet. Sales are up, down, level, depending on the month and there are few discernable and easy to target trends. As Tony Falcetti of Springfield, Massachusetts’ Falcetti Music puts it, “The market is still a rollercoaster.”
How are piano and keyboard sales compared to this same time, last year?
What price-points are selling best?
“There’s always been a market for high quality. We’ve done well with high end used pianos and consignments. Almost every customer is looking to take advantage of the distressed market, just like in housing.”
Don Bennett, PianoWorks
“Midrange grands and midrange grands with players were doing really well last quarter. High end upright sales have been solid year round.”
Pook Lane, Lane Music
“On the acoustic piano part, the intermediate dollar value seems to be the leader in sales. For the keyboard sales, the keyboards in the $700 – $900 price point seem to sell the most.”
Raymond J. Goodrich, Sr.,
What trends have you been noticing in piano/keyboard sales?
“Customers are still wary, but more willing to commit compared to a year ago.”
Martin Wittkopp, Music City
“More digitals are selling in the $1,500 – $3,500 range… Less sales over $3,500… There is some grand activity, but little acoustic vertical movement or interest.”
Harry Gillum, Showtime Music
“Store traffic has definitely increased in the past few months. The spectrum of products being purchased remains fairly broad with focus being on the mid-range of the price scale.”
Jo Beth Dellinger
Artist Pianos, Ltd.
“The standard vertical piano is a tough sell. Our success is coming from digital piano sales, mainly Yamaha Clavinovas.”
Cary Welch, Welch Music Center
“We are selling more digital pianos than acoustic piano. 70% digital 30% acoustic.”
Rick Lindquist, Schmitt Music
“People are spending again.”
Expectations for the coming months?
“Outstanding. We are anticipating a very good year.”
Gregg Colbert, Jacobs Music Co.
“Recently there seems to be some indication of more business in the coming months.”
Morgenroth Music Centers
“Institutional business is seeing an increase lately, but floor traffic continues to be a challenge. Getting out of the store is the only way to survive and thrive these days.”
Robert M. Sides
Family Music Centers
“We expect a modest rise in demand for step-up piano sales. While there’s plenty of pent up demand, if gasoline prices go over $4.00 a gallon, people will put off big ticket purchases. There’s still lots of resistance to spending money they don’t have on non-essential items (like pianos). Sales of expensive instruments on credit still very weak.”
“Generally positive, but I’ve been there before and found myself disappointed. This time however, I’m feeling much better.”
Bill Jones, Bill Jones Music