White-goods sales were essentially flat for the nation's 100 largest majap dealers in 2007 as the economic storm clouds gathered.
According to the latest TWICE Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report, prepared with market research partner The Stevenson Company, sales of major appliances slipped 0.3 percent to just more than $25 billion for the group, representing the annual study's first-ever decline.
This compares with a 5.6 percent increase during the prior year, which itself reflected a 50 percent falloff from 2005's growth rate.
The downturn mirrors the collapse of the housing market, which had nurtured the majap industry during a nearly 10-year bull run. The gravy train ended when home values fell, mortgage rates reset and foreclosures rose, slowing new construction to a standstill and putting countless kitchen remodels on hold.
Still, there were pockets of strength. Smaller independent dealers regained lost ground, the report shows, supporting claims of market share gains by the major buying groups.
Also weathering the storm were retailers that cater to the carriage trade, operate outside the hardest-hit real estate markets, or have limited exposure to the builder channel.
Meanwhile, No. 1 majap merchant Sears continued to donate share, with sales slipping 7.3 percent last year — albeit to a still quite respectable $8.3 billion.
The Top 100 dealers accounted for 89 percent of total U.S. majap sales at retail in 2007, pegged at $28.1 billion by Stevenson. The complete report begins on p. 29.