The slow and steady growth across the pro AV landscape continues with the September 2020 results from the AVIXA Pro-AV Business Index, which saw sales dip from 51.8 in August to 51.3 in the most recent numbers and employment jump from 50.1 in August to 51.7 in September.
Those results mark another month of slow and steady growth in AV after the previous several months had been marked by double-digit spikes in both indicators.
While “the resumption of growth has been much slower than we would have imagined,” AVIXA economic analyst Peter Hansen isn’t worried.
“We’re still seeing a continuation of slow growth,” he says.
“We’re on the right path. It hasn’t accelerated quite as much as some indicators would have led us to believe, but it’s above 50 and that means things are growing. Anything showing growth in 2020 is good news.”
AVIXA senior director of market intelligence Sean Wargo isn’t sure what the rest of 2020 will look like in the Pro-AV Business Index but the fact it’s showing growth amidst so much volatility is a good sign, he says.
“If we held at 50 for the rest of the year, that’s still a great balancing story,” he says. “We’ve shored up the levee. There are no more leaks, but we’re not yet filling the pond.”
Several segments of the AV economy still haven’t reopened yet and none have returned to pre-pandemic levels, he says.
In terms of flickers of optimism, AVIXA asked Pro-AV Business Index respondents whether the bulk of their projects have returned, a question that only 5-10 percent said yes to in July. The September total was more than 30 percent, says Hansen.
The companies that embraced “early innovation” and “keeping yourself open to creativity” are the ones that have thrived during the coronavirus outbreak, says Wargo.
“The pandemic has been an accelerator for a lot of trends,” he says.
“It continues to be about looking for those marginal opportunities, finding ways to innovate and change, growing and expanding skill sets, talking to new customers and getting involved with conceptual reimagining of spaces.”
Inside the Pro-AV Business Index
Hansen looks at the Pro-AV Business Index as more of a confidence meter than an accurate representation of the exact percentage of AVIXA members who are achieving sales and employment growth in a particular month.
“When you release a survey, you work very hard to tailor your language to get the type of response you seek,” he says. “There’s a relationship between confidence and the index. Our sales index moves a little like a confidence indicator—sales go up if people feel good, not if they are literally seeing growth.”
Wargo calls the index “a great way to see a universal rise in confidence with so much volatility going on. Rather than a true measurement of growth, it’s an indicator of where we are in our industry.”
The upcoming presidential election shouldn’t have much immediate effect on the AVIXA Pro-AV Business Index or the sales and employment numbers, says Wargo, noting elections trigger “largely a long-term impact if any at all.”
“What people talk about is the uncertainty it creates,” he says.
Hansen doesn’t expect a steep decline or sharp upturn in the index no matter who emerges from the presidential election as the winner.
“The president’s ability to affect the economy is a lot less than he’ll bill it as,” he says. “It’s more about the major policy decisions, such as the stimulus package. I’ll leave that to the political scientists to say how the election will affect the timeline or the probability of that happening.
“Overall, you can expect less change than you’ll hear from the party leaders,” says Hansen.
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