Despite ongoing supply chain issues, the pro AV industry saw record sales growth last month in North America and even more so globally, according the latest business index numbers from the research wing of the trade association AVIXA.
The new Pro AV Business Index says its AV Sales Index (AVI-S) measured 72.7 for March, up 7.4 points from February, and up 3.1 points from the previous pandemic recovery record of 69.6 in June 2021. The March number also exceeds the all-time record for AVIXA's index of 71.6, from March 2017.
Driving the record, says the index summary, is the recovery from the pandemic, especially with many countries sunsetting restrictions and moving towards an endemic COVID-19 approach. Commenters are clear, though, that growth faces its own restrictions, primarily supply difficulties. Given the complexity and importance of the ongoing supply difficulties, AVIXA is making it the subject of our next economic deep dive, the second quarter Macroeconomic Trends Analysis (META) report. Hiring is a secondary brake on growth, since labor market tightness has now reached pro AV.
The recovery is happening in spite of supply issues, with 91% of respondents to AVIXA's business survey reporting at least some supply delays.
Other highlights from the March report:
The pandemic has massively evolved since the start of 2022 and is worth a close look. Since the pandemic became a global phenomenon in early Spring 2020, global daily deaths have been at our above 5000 for two years straight. That has since changed. Those rates dropped below 5000 per day in the last week of March and below 4000 per day in the first week of April. Risks remain—future variants, China’s COVID-zero policy, seasonal factors—but things are now by far the most optimistic since the pandemic began. There are so many reasons to be pleased about the improvement in these numbers! From the pro AV perspective, we spotlight the experience economy. So much of pro AV is in-person-centric: live events, hospitality, entertainment, etc. These sources of revenue, employment, and joy have been greatly affected and reduced for two years. Their recovery has never been closer than it is today!
The labor market—both inside and outside of pro AV—is extremely strong. Within our industry, the AV Employment Index (AVI-E) marked another month of strong growth. The March reading was 64.9, just as we saw in February. That this AVI-E number is substantially below the AVI-S number of 72.7 should not take away from how strongly positive an indicator it is. Employment changes more slowly than sales, resulting in numbers closer to the no-net change level of 50. That context is why 64.9 is actually near-record employment expansion. Such expansion is even more positive when comments make it clear that one reason it’s not higher is because hiring isn’t that easy right now. U.S. employment numbers help show why. In March, the U.S. economy added 431,000 jobs, extending a streak of 11 months over 400,000 new jobs per month. Labor force participation climbed in March, and unemployment fell. In sum, people are rejoining the labor force, and companies are soaking them up as fast as possible. Supply is growing, but demand is growing more quickly. That makes for a tough hiring market. That said, while it is a challenge, it is also a sign of the positive strength of the current recovery.
The acceleration in growth was truly a global phenomenon in March, as North America and the rest of the world saw their respective regional AVI-S marks increase substantially.1 North American growth is now at 65.4, while the rest of world growth has reached a blistering 75.3. That figure is 4.6 points beyond the February rest of the world figure, which was already an all-time record. And, as much acceleration as we have seen so far, our best guess is that the acceleration will continue—though perhaps only modestly for the rest of the world.