With the growth bloom fading from the room air conditioning rose, major appliance manufacturers were able to squeeze out only a minor increase in shipments in August, though it was big enough to extend the industry's string of consecutive growth months to 24.
According to figures from AHAM, factory appliance shipments totaled 4.54 million in August, up just 2.9%, the smallest increase since the fractional 0.2% rise recorded in January. That put shipments for the year's first eight months at 41.8 million, up a solid 10.5%. And in keeping with Whirlpool's recent estimate that industrywide shipments would be up in the 9%-10% range this year.
The industry's cumulative growth so far this year has prompted AHAM to update and modestly increase its forecasts for industry shipments for both 1999 and 2000 (details of the revised forecast will appear in our next issue).
Despite the general market sluggishness in August, core appliances (ranges, washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers) turned in the second biggest monthly growth of the year, with shipments posting a 12.7% rise from the same month last year to 3.14 million.
All core products showed gains for the month, with the category paced by double-digit increases for washers, dryers, refrigerators and freezers. Through the first eight months shipments of core appliances stood at 24.4 million, up 8%.
The month's performance was held down by the first overall shipment decline of the year for non-core products (cooktops, microwaves, disposers, compactors, room air and dehumidifiers), which until August had been leading the industry's overall growth.
Total shipments in the non-core category sank 13.8% to 1.4 million, with substantial declines registered by microwave ovens and dehumidifiers. But on the year-through-August, cumulative shipments of non-core appliances were up 14.3% to 17.4 million.