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Cold Cooking Dishes AHAM Bland October

WASHINGTON, D.C. -Factory shipments of major cooking appliances fell sharply in October, dragging down the monthly wholesale sales totals for all white goods in the process.

According to the latest report from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), total factory sales fell 11.1 percent in October to 4.1 million units, compared to the same four-week period last year. Taking a major toll was the cooking category, which dropped nearly 20 percent from the year-ago period to 1.4 million units shipped.

The biggest casualty within the category was microwave ovens. Only 793,000 units were shipped in October, which is nearly 30 percent less than the number sold in October 1999. Also taking it on the chin was the built-in range sector, with sales of gas models off by nearly 13 percent and electric units down by almost 15 percent.

Also impacting the monthly sales figures adversely was the home comfort category, which fell a staggering 93.3 percent over the year-ago period, albeit with far fewer units in play. Shipments fell to 4,700 SKUs in October from 69,700 units last year, with the loss coming largely in room air conditioners.

Due to an early spring heat followed by a cool summer, retailers found themselves first clamoring for product and later sitting on inventory as the peak selling season passed. As a result, merchants returned some 15,900 air conditioners to their suppliers in October, resulting in a 140-percent decline for the category.

Still, even white goods stalwarts like laundry and refrigeration stalled for the four-week period ended October 28, posting single-digit declines. Shipments of laundry products were down 2.6 percent to about 1 million units, while factory sales of refrigerators and freezers fell 3.2 percent to 815,000 units.

Despite the one-month downdraft, total majap shipments were still up nearly 4 percent year-to-date over the prior-year period, with 52.4 million units sold to retailers domestically.

Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances* (In Thousands of Units)

*Domestic shipments only. Includes U.S. produced and imported products. Source: AHAM cTWICE 2000