By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Washington – A mid-summer surge in room air demand prompted by a blistering July contributed to a 6.3 percent spike in unit factory shipments of major appliances last month.
According to the monthly wholesale sales tally by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), total shipments reached 4.5 million units, compared with 4.2 million in July 2011.
Nevertheless, year-to-date unit volume is down 1.2 percent from the comparable period last year.
Leading the charge in July was room air, up 28.4 percent to more than 603,000 units, while shipments for its sister dehumidifier category rose nearly 15 percent, to 137,600 units. Year-to-date volume is up 7.2 percent for ACs, but dehumidifiers still lag with a nearly 20 percent decline.
The next-strongest category of the month was kitchen cleanup, ahead 10.7 percent, led by a 16.6 percent surge in disposer units. The core dishwasher segment also showed gains, with a 4.1 percent increase in built-in model shipments offsetting a 19 percent decline in portable units.
Also entering positive territory was home laundry, up 3.2 percent to some 829,000 units on strength in washers (ahead 3 percent) and electric-model dryers (up 4.1 percent). Still, year-to-date performance shows a 6.4 percent decline year-over-year.
Elsewhere, cooking also entered the plus column with a 2.2 percent increase, down from the 6.7 percent gain in June. Top performers here were gas-fueled cooktops, up 5.4 percent, and electric ranges, ahead 4.1 percent, although shipments of gas ovens and electric cooktops fell 13 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. Cooking remains in negative territory year-to-date, down 2.8 percent.
Food preservation, traditionally a strong summer category due to heat-related breakdowns and replacement sales, was the only segment turning in a negative performance in July. Shipments of full-size refrigerators fell nearly 4 percent, to 719,300 units, offsetting a 5.3 percent increase in standalone freezers.
Finally, the AHAM 6, which provides a snapshot of the industry by combining the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories, edged up 1.1 percent, without the assist from AC, although AHAM 6 shipments are down 3.8 percent for the year.
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