When lock-down commenced during March / early April 2020, it was thought that instrument sales might suffer as it did in 2008. However, floods of enquiries started coming into the Piano Shop as the new situation unleashed new personal objectives, and released some old suppressed desires to get back to that piano practice which took second place to the career.
According to Yamaha, they sold 60 percent more digital pianos World-wide in April than in the same month last year. The sales increase was especially significant because, in a typical spring, schools and colleges tend to make big purchases in preparation for the coming autumn term. Because of corona-virus, that market segment had dropped away, so the spike in sales was likely to come from individual buyers.
This is certainly what we see at the Piano Shop. More than ever, people are happy to purchase pianos on-line. With digital pianos, we can understand this as digital pianos are very much electrical commodity items that perform virtually identically from product to product. With acoustic pianos we can be dealing with a very different beast as there are so many variables during the piano’s build that gives them their individuality.
We tend to see this less so with new grands and uprights, as the manufacturers have very stringent quality checks in terms of materials and assembly procedures.
However, a large proportion of our sales are reconditioned or fully restored pianos that have been stripped to bare essentials and rebuilt. This leads to their inevitable individual personalities.
One way we have tried to address the individuality of the pianos is carefully to play and record them then exhibit the result on our website. This can never replace the pianist-buyer having their hands on the keyboard and taking it for a test spin; but it’s the next best thing.
Things have radically altered since those early days of lock-down, as the shop is now functioning in-line with government guidelines.
We have learned from some local health professionals like Radiologists and Hospital Doctors, who have purchased pianos for themselves and their children. They have indicated that they had always wanted to get back into music, and also with children being home-schooled they see it as an opportunity to make music a part of that which they want for their families; and also need the proper tools.
An interesting comment from a US piano shop which specialises in selling restored acoustic pianos in Brooklyn said email inquiries shot up when the virus hit New York. Under lock-down, he said, he sold nearly twice as many units per month as during normal times, mostly instruments in the lower price range, about $2,500 to $6,500; about half his business was driven by piano teachers referring their students. Notably absent from the client list were professional performing pianists, saying “They want to touch the piano; they know exactly what they’re looking for.”
There has also been resurgence in the need for piano teaching. This matter has caused some hiccups as face-to-face (close proximity) is a barrier; however, there’s been a noticeable increase in YouTube and Zoom lessons.