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Demand Up For Majaps In February

The rebound in demand for major appliances that began in the third quarter of 2001 has carried over into the first quarter of 2002, as indicated by the latest factory shipment figures from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

According to the trade group’s four-week tally for the period ended Feb. 23, 2002, total wholesale sales of white goods grew 2.6 percent in February to 4.9 million units, while year-to-date shipments moved ahead 3.6 percent to 8.6 million pieces.

Leading the sales charge was refrigeration, which rocketed 17.5 percent to some 692,800 units in February, along with chest-type freezers, whose factory sales soared 35.4 percent to 109,500 units. Also turning in solid February performances were the cooking category, up 5.3 percent; kitchen clean up, ahead 5 percent; and home laundry, the softest among the big-box class, with a 3.7 percent gain.

Burning up the cooking arena was surface cooking units (gas), sales of which rose 23.9 percent to 32,700 units, followed by freestanding gas ranges, whose sales rose 20.1 percent to 213,000 units. Electric ranges also sizzled, with surface cooking units gaining 17.9 percent to 43,300 pieces, built-in ranges growing 16.7 percent to 62,000 units, and freestanding ranges increasing 15.9 percent 313,600 units.

Microwave ovens, which helped carry the cooking category during much of 2000 and 2001, showed a decline of 2.6 percent in factory sales to 873,900 units.

The saving grace for the kitchen clean up category in February was built-in dishwashers, whose 13.1 percent sales surge and 480,900 units shipped lifted the sector out of the minus column. Indeed, factory shipments of compactors contracted 19.4 percent to 8,700 units, while disposers were down 2.4 percent and portable dishwashers were off by 1.7 percent in February.

Leading the home laundry category was electric dryers, shipments of which increased 6.3 percent to 438,800 units, while gas versions grew 4.7 percent to 116,500 units. Proving a drag on the home laundry sector was automatic washers, which saw a slight 1.8-percent uptick to 607,600 units.

Pulling up the rear once again was the home comfort category, which fell 29.1 percent in February. Dehumidifiers fell 60.5 percent to a mere 15,300 units as shipments of room air conditioners slipped 26.9 percent to 409,400 units.

Providing a snapshot view of the sales scene is the “AHAM 6,” an amalgam of the industry’s core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and range categories. The group enjoyed wholesale sales gains of 11.5 percent in February, and accounted for factory shipments of 3.1 million units.

Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances*

(In Thousands Of Units)