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September Major Appliance Shipments Plummet

10/17/2008 02:31:00 PM Eastern

Washington — Factory shipments of major appliances fell nearly 15 percent in September, representing the industry’s worst monthly performance in more than a year.

The tally, compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), would have been even lower save for a sharp rise in room air shipments last month.

The increase in AC offset steep double-digit declines in the industry’s core laundry, refrigerator, dishwasher and cooking categories, which came as the global financial crisis cascaded and September housing starts hit a new 17-year low.

The majap industry downturn has now entered its third year, with monthly shipment reports reflecting declines on top of year-ago declines.

Last month’s 14.7 percent drop in unit shipments was the biggest year-over-year pullback since Aug. 2007, when wholesale sales fell 15.6 percent.

So far this year, shipments are down 8.2 percent through September.

The steep downturn in demand for core appliances was reflected in the so-called “AHAM 6.” Comprised of washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven shipments, the composite category fell 17.2 percent year-over-year in September.

Broken out by component, the vendor-supplied shipment data show that:

·         washers fell 20.3 percent to about 745,000 units;

·         dryers fell 16.9 percent to about 636,300 units;

·         dishwashers fell 23.1 percent to about 553,700 units;

·         refrigerators fell 15.9 percent to about 976,700 units;

·         gas ranges declined 15.5 percent to some 252,900 units, while electric ranges fell 17.4 percent to about 403,400 units; and

·         gas ovens fell 23.1 percent to about 4,100 units and electric ovens fell 17.3 percent to about 69,300 units.

September shipments of freezers were actually up, by 4.4 percent to about 241,700 units, as more consumers looked to save money by buying food in bulk.

Freezers joined room air as the only two categories to enjoy gains last month, with AC shipments soaring 66.2 percent to some 86,700 units.

Surface cooking units suffered the biggest drop for the month, down 24.6 percent to approximately 37,300 units.