ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NY -- The vending industry began to regain ground in 2011, following a downturn that appears to have bottomed out the year before. The music and games sector had considerable success in slowing an overall decline that became pronounced in 2006. These findings are part of Vending Times' 2012 Census of the Industry.
In vending, total dollar volume rose to $43 billion in 2011 from $42.2 billion a year earlier, or 1.9%. This modest recovery was led primarily by price improvements in its strongest categories that more than offset continued unit volume declines. Of course, those adjustments were prompted in large part by substantial increases in the cost of agricultural products, passed along to operators by suppliers, and of fuel. This price inflation provided additional incentive for operators to apply the best available tools to increasing route productivity, which has been recognized as an industry imperative for the past decade.
In 2011, total dollar volume for the nine amusement machine categories tracked by Vending Times was $4.67 billion, a decline of about 2.7%. There were an estimated 69,000 digital downloading jukeboxes connected to music networks. The number of compact disc and legacy vinyl jukeboxes continued to decline; in 2011, there were about 17,600 documented CD and vinyl boxes. Digital jukeboxes represented 80% of all units on location.
Total dollar sales though bulk and flat vending machines increased 1.2% in 2011, but the number of machines on location declined.
Preliminary data for 2012 suggest sales through vending machines will hold steady. Another decline is projected for the coin-op sector, but less than 2%, and the number of digital jukeboxes is expected to reach 73,000 by the end of 2012. Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, disrupted operations across the Tristate region for days (weeks in the hard-hit coastal areas), but the historic storm is not anticipated to have a major negative effect on the year's total dollar volume in the vending, OCS and amusement sectors.
Vending Times' 2012 Census of the Industry is mailing as a special run-of-book section in the December issue. VT will soon offer the new Census here. (Earlier editions, going back to 2006, are archived and free.)