Washington - The major appliance industry roared back to life in April, riding a wave of federally funded appliance rebates.
The $300 million cash-for-appliances initiative hit its peak in that month, following a staggered state-by-state rollout that began in February.
Retailers are reporting little halo effect, however, as the state-managed programs conclude.
The effort, part of the Obama administration's economic stimulus program, helped fuel a 12.1-percent spike in majap factory shipments in April to 6.3 million units, according to the latest wholesale sales data collected by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), an industry trade group. Shipments through the first quarter, however, rose a more modest 1.6 percent.
Food preservation was the biggest beneficiary of the subsidies that month, with refrigeration shipments soaring 37.3 percent year over year.
Dishwashers saw the second-biggest boost in April, with wholesale sales up 15.3 percent in units.
Cooking and home laundry tied for third place, with gains of 13 percent each. Leading the cooking crowd were cooktops, which mounted a 44.2-percent surge in gas-fueled models and a 26.6 percent gain in electric units.
In home laundry, gas-powered dryers led the pack with a nearly 28 percent increase, while the core washer category enjoyed an 11.1 percent rebound in April.
The rebate program has also helped heat up the room air conditioner category, which had been stagnant for the past two summers. Factory shipments rose nearly 10 percent in April, but still show a 10 percent decline for the quarter.
Providing a snapshot of the monthly results were the AHAM 6, a composite category comprised of washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and ovens. The core products together mounted a nearly 20 percent increase in factory sales, and were up 9.1 percent for the quarter.