Third quarter US hearing aid sales continued to be robust, according to statistics compiled by the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Washington, DC. Total net unit sales of hearing aids increased by 5.9% in the 3rd quarter (Q3 2014 vs Q3 2013) —surprisingly strong results considering that the 3rd quarter sales percentage base in 2013 was also high (8.7%). Third quarter sales in the private/commercial sector increased by 4.0%, while dispensing activity at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) increased by 13.1%.

Looking at the commercial sector (non-VA sales), hearing aid unit sales are 2.5% higher that they were at this point last year. Quarterly sales have experienced quarterly increases of 0.1%, 3.3%, and 4.0% for Q1 through Q3.

The VA has dispensed 9.3% more units than it did through the first three quarters of 2013. Quarterly sales of the VA have increased by 4.2%, 10.2%, and 13.1% for Q1 through Q3.

When the VA and commercial markets are combined, the entire US hearing aid industry has experienced a 3.9% hearing aid unit increase through the first three quarters of 2013. This is on the high end of the often-quoted 2-4% average increase.

The latest HIA statistics suggest better-than-usual unit volume growth. However, optimism should be tempered by recent Hearing Review survey statistics suggesting flat-to-declining average sales prices (ASPs) for the commercial sector and significantly decreasing ASPs when factoring in the aggressive price competition by manufacturers for VA business.  Finally, when factoring in Big Box sales growth, the independent dispensing offices are almost certainly not benefiting from all of the 2.5% growth in that sector, but perhaps more like a 1% to 1.25% increase.