Sales of annuities declined in the first quarter, according to the latest annuities sales survey released Wednesday by LIMRA, an industry-funded research group.

Annuity providers generated $51.7 billion in first-quarter annuity sales, down 6% from a year earlier. Sales of variable annuities declined 4% year-over-over to $35.5 billion, while fixed annuities fell 11% to 16.2 billion. The sales figures mark the sixth consecutive quarter of declines for variable annuities and the eighth consecutive quarter of declines for fixed annuities, according to LIMRA.

“VA sales continue to struggle despite sustained equity market gains,” Joseph Montminy, assistant vice president and director of LIMRA annuity research, said in a statement. “In addition, all significant fixed annuity product types declined in the first quarter of 2013. In many ways, the current market share is more challenging to many annuity manufacturers than the recent financial crisis.”

Sales of fixed annuities fell across virtually all categories, including indexed annuities, which dropped 4% to $7.8 billion, its lowest level in two years. Fixed immediate annuities declined 6% from a year earlier to $1.7 billion.

Fixed-rate deferred annuities, book value annuities and market-value adjusted annuities suffered the biggest declines. Fixed-rate deferred annuities generated a mere $5.2 billion in sales, down 25% from last year and down a whopping 80% from $26 billion in the first quarter of 2009.  Book value annuities generated $4.2 billion in first-quarter sales, down 26% year-over-year, while market-value adjusted annuities generated $1.0 billion, down 23% year-over-year.

The one bright spot in the otherwise dismal first quarter were deferred income annuity sales, which more than doubled to $395 million from a year ago. The growing interest in deferred income annuities has “existing players launching new or refined products, while other companies are exploring whether to enter the market,” LIMRA said in a press release.

The survey is based on data from 58 companies, representing 94% of the market, according to LIMRA. 

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