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Slow A/C Volume Hurts June Majap Shipments By 7%

8/06/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

The slowdown in factory shipments of major appliances continued in June, with deliveries declining 7.1 percent for the month. But the drop-off, which was partly attributable to frigid air conditioner sales, represents an improvement from the more precipitous double-digit shortfalls seen earlier this year.

Indeed, minus the impact of room air conditioners, the core white goods categories — washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and ranges — slipped just 5.6 percent in June, according to the latest factory sales data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

But the story was very different within the AC sector. Thanks to this year's cool early-summer climes, shipments of air conditioner sank 24.7 percent to 810,600 units, while its kindred category, dehumidifiers, fell 26.2 percent.

The greatest strength continues to be seen within kitchen cleanup, where wholesale sales slipped a mere 1.7 percent in June, compared to a year-to-date downturn of 6.2 percent. The sales leader therein — and, for that matter, across the majap board — is disposers, which surged 9.3 percent for the period. The strong showing helped compensate for the sharp 10.4 percent drop in factory shipments of category mate dishwashers.

Next in line comes cooking, which fell 2.9 percent on weakness in freestanding gas ranges, which were off 12.7 percent. The decline was mitigated by a 4.3 percent surge in surface cooking units and a slim 0.1 percent gain in factory sales of built-in gas ranges. Overall, electric ranges faired better, falling only 3.4 percent in June compared to gas ranges' more dramatic 10.3 percent dip in total.

But the laggard in big white boxes was home laundry, which declined 5.5 percent despite a relatively strong showing in automatic washers, which fell only 2.5 percent. Dragging down the category were gas dryers, which dropped 15 percent to 122,600 units, while their electric brethren fell a more modest 7.2 percent.

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