Washington - Major appliance manufacturers anticipate sales momentum to return to the white goods business in 2008.
However, while they are projecting a record 80 million units in total factory shipments for next year, many individual categories will fail to top the high-water sales marks set mid-decade before the housing malaise took hold.
According to the latest Trends and Forecasts report compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) based on vendor data, total projected wholesale sales in 2008 will modestly exceed the 78.9 million units expected to ship this year. Indeed, all product categories are expected to outperform the current year's lackluster showing.
Nevertheless, the 2008 tallies generally fall short of the peak sales period of 2005-2006, when the white goods industry rode the crest of an over-exuberant housing market. In home laundry for example, 2008 sales are projected to reach 17.4 million units, a slight gain over the 17.0 million units expected to be shipped in 2007, and just behind the 17.5 million washers and dryers that sold in 2006. The same holds true within the home comfort category, where wholesale sales peaked in 2006 at 11.5 million units, will likely fall to 11.3 million this year, and are expected to edge back up to 11.4 million in 2008.
Cooking, by contrast, had its best year to date in 2005, when factory shipments hit 23.8 million units. This year's outlook calls for sales of 22.7 million ovens and ranges, and 2008 projections are for wholesale sales of 23.2 million units.
The exception is been food preservation, which is poised for steady gains from 2006 forward. Unit shipments fell to 13.2 million that year but are expected to reach just under 13.8 million this year and to grow by an additional 44,000 units in 2008.
Perhaps most promising is the trajectory of the so-called AHAM 6, a composite category comprised of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and ovens sectors. Shipments are expected to fall this year by approximately 150,000 units to 46.5 million, but are projected to rebound in 2008 to a record 47.2 million units.