Washington - Factory shipments of major appliances were essentially flat in October, edging up just 0.6 percent to 4.3 million units.
But the data, compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), reveals continued softness in core categories that was masked by high double-digit gains in dehumidifiers and chest-style freezers.
Shipments of dehumidifiers rose 93 percent year over year to some 54,500 units for the four weeks ended Oct. 29, while chest-style freezer volume increased nearly 70 percent to 134,600 units, compared to 79,500 shipped in October 2010.
Also posting strong monthly showings were portable dishwashers (up 9.3 percent) and microwave ovens (up 8.3 percent), while trash compactors, garbage disposal units and gas-fueled cooktops managed low single-digit gains.
The balance of product categories tracked by AHAM all experienced unit volume declines last month.
Room air led the retreat with a decrease of 54.2 percent from last year, followed by gas ranges which fell by 10.1 percent to about 189,000 units shipped. Gas ovens similarly slipped by nearly 9 percent, while electric cooking products cumulatively declined by 3.5 percent.
Within laundry, washer volume was flat at negative 3 percent although dryer shipments tumbled by nearly 6 percent.
Elsewhere, shipments of refrigerators were essentially flat with a 0.9 percent gain, while unit volume for built-in dishwashers fell 3.6 percent.
The AHAM 6, a composite category comprised of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories, was static with a negligible 0.8 percent retreat.
For the 10 months through Oct. 29, total shipments slipped 0.1 percent, to 52 million units, while the AHAM 6 posted a 4.4 percent decline, led down by a 10 percent drop in gas oven volume and mid-single digit declines in gas ranges, electric ovens, refrigerators and laundry.