Factory sales of major appliances rose for the second consecutive month in September as a surge in demand for room air conditioners and microwave ovens pushed total shipments up 7.9 percent to 6.6 million units.
According to the latest monthly tally from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), wholesale sales of ACs spiked 256.7 percent last month to 51,400 units, helping to catapult the home comfort category, which also includes dehumidifiers, 4 5.2 percent to 101,000 units.
Despite the strong September showing, however, year-to-date sales of room air are still 14.4 percent below last year’s level.
The cooking category registered the second-strongest performance last month with a 17.4 percent gain over the year-ago period. Leading the pack were factory sales of microwave ovens, up 28.5 percent to 1.7 million units, and built-in gas ranges, which rose 12.6 percent to 8,000 units. Pulling up the rear were freestanding gas and electric ranges, which were virtually flat.
The month’s biggest loser, however, was home laundry, which fell nearly 4 percent to 1.4 million units, and remains 3.1 percent below year-to-date levels for 2000. The category posted negative comps for each of its components, with electric dryers showing the biggest drop with an 11.2 percent decline to 140,000 units.
Despite the nearly 8 percent growth in total industry shipments, sales for its core categories — including washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and ranges — remained anemic. Shipments of the so-called “AHAM 6” were essentially flat with a negligible 0.5 percent gain, and were down 2.5 percent year-to-date over the comparable period in 2000.
Industry Shopments Of Major Appliances*
(In Thousands Of Units)