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The new year got off to a good start for the major appliance industry, which shipped over 5 million units in the first month of 2004, representing a 5.7 percent gain over the year-ago period.
That's the good news from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) in its latest monthly report on vendor sales.
The bad news, at least for all but room air and microwave oven manufacturers, is that those two categories alone were largely responsible for the January gains. Room air, rebounding from last year's tepid sales, saw factory shipments grow 49.8 percent to some 361,200 units, leading the total home comfort category to a 39.6 percent rise.
Meanwhile, microwave ovens turned up the heat in January with an 18.9 percent gain year-over-year as some 997,200 units shipped. That helped boost the total cooking category 12.9 percent for the month, despite a more modest 4 percent rise in wholesale sales of electric ranges, and a 7.1 percent gain in gas range shipments.
But beyond cooking and room air, business was more modest. Kitchen cleanup grew just 1.9 percent in January, while food preservation was virtually flat at 1.1 percent growth and home laundry sales actually fell 5 percent.
For the latter, weakness was felt across the board, as washer shipments declined 6.6 percent to 603,200 units and wholesale sales of dryers slipped 3.3 percent to 562,000 units last month.
Food preservation's soft showing reflected weakness in the core refrigeration category, which eked out a 1.5 percent gain with shipments of 634,600 units. Elsewhere in the kitchen, dishwashers' respectable 4.2 percent showing was offset by a nearly 16 percent decline in factory sales of portable dishwashers.
Underscoring the underlying weakness behind the January figures were the tabulations for the so-called "AHAM 6," an amalgamation of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and range categories, which tend to present a more accurate snapshot of the state of the industry. That grouping was essentially flat in January, with sales edging down 0.1 percent to just over 3 million units.Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances*
|Product||2004 JANUARY||2003 JANUARY||% Chg.||2004 12 mos.||2003 12 mos.||% Chg.|
|ALL MAJOR APPLIANCES||5,094.9||4,821.6||5.7||5,094.9||4,821.6||5.7|
|COOKING - TOTAL||1,683.2||1,491.3||12.9||1,683.2||1,491.3||12.9|
|ELECTRIC RANGES - TOTAL||431.5||415.1||4.0||431.5||415.1||4.0|
|Surface Cooking Units||43.3||43.7||(0.9)||43.3||43.7||(0.9)|
|GAS RANGES - TOTAL||254.5||237.6||7.1||254.5||237.6||7.1|
|Surface Cooking Units||34.9||32.1||8.7||34.9||32.1||8.7|
|HOME LAUNDRY - TOTAL||1,165.2||1,226.5||(5.0)||1,165.2||1,226.5||(5.0)|
|DRYERS - TOTAL||562.0||581.0||(3.3)||562.0||581.0||(3.3)|
|KITCHEN CLEAN UP - TOTAL||1,028.8||1,009.5||1.9||1,028.8||1,009.5||1.9|
|DISHWASHERS - TOTAL||485.1||465.5||4.2||485.1||465.5||4.2|
|FOOD PRESERVATION - TOTAL||813.3||804.7||1.1||813.3||804.7||1.1|
|FREEZERS - TOTAL||178.7||179.3||(0.3)||178.7||179.3||(0.3)|
|HOME COMFORT - TOTAL||404.4||289.7||39.6||404.4||289.7||39.6|
|ROOM AIR CONDITIONERS||361.2||241.2||49.8||361.2||241.2||49.8|
|*Domestic shipments only. Includes U.S. produced and imported products.|
** AHAM 6 includes: Washer, Dryers, Dishwashers, Refrigerator, Freezers, and Free-Standing and Built-In Ranges.
Source: AHAM ©TWICE 2004