WASHINGTON — Strong demand for dehumidifiers and upright freezers pushed factory shipments of major appliances up 2 percent to about 4.2 million units in November.
But the increase belied weakness in the core cooking and laundry categories, the latest vendor data show. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers’ (AHAM’s) monthly tally, total laundry shipments fell 2.9 percent, to 1.1 million units, for the four weeks, ended Nov. 24. Washer shipments were essentially flat, slipping 0.8 percent, while unit wholesale sales of dryers declined 5.5 percent year over year.
Total cooking shipments also declined 0.8 percent, dragged down by a 21.7 percent falloff in gas oven volume and a 3.1 percent drop in electric ranges, which offset gains of 3.6 percent for gas ranges and 1.9 percent for microwave ovens.
However, retail demand for food preservation and kitchen cleanup was strong in November, with both categories up 6.2 percent. The aforementioned upright freezer segment led food preservation with a gain of 17.6 percent, while shipments of refrigerators were up a solid 7.6 percent.
Kitchen cleanup’s strength was in disposers, shipment of which rose 8.5 percent, while wholesale sales of builtin dishwashers plummeted nearly 30 percent.
In home comfort, a nearly 50 percent increase in dehumidifier volume offset an 83.1 percent decline in room air shipments, leaving the category with a 7 percent gain for the month.
The AHAM 6, a composite of the key washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven segments, rose 1 percent in November year over year.
Year to date through Nov. 24, cooking was down 0.4 percent; the AHAM 6 was down 2.1 percent; food preservation was down 3.2 percent; laundry was down 4.2 percent; home comfort was up 1.7 percent; and kitchen cleanup was up 5.8 percent. Total shipments were down 0.3 percent, to 55.5 million units.