Major appliance manufacturers closed out their third consecutive record shipment year with a December that showed the biggest unit increase of any 1999 month, according to figures just issued by AHAM.
For the month, overall appliance factory shipments jumped 22.6 percent to just less than 5.9 million units -- which put the total for the fourth quarter at 14.9 million, up 11.6 percent, and the year at 62.5 million, up 10.3 percent. Shipments of non-core appliances (microwaves, surface cooking units, disposers, compactors, room air conditioners and dehumidifiers) set the growth pace for all three periods.
For December, non-core shipments surged 49.9 percent, and while that sounds impressive, 96 percent of the 750,000-unit increase came from a 718,000, or 98 percent, surge in microwave shipments. For the quarter, non-core shipments were up 13.7 percent to 5.27 million, to put the year at 24.8 million, up 14.2 percent.
The non-core shipment rise was paced by air conditioners (up 38.8 percent). Microwaves, on the strength of the December performance, also turned in double-digit growth and posted a 10.3 percent rise.
Shipment of core appliances (ranges, washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers) rose 10.2 percent in December, with freezers (up 43 percent) and dishwashers (up 20.6 percent), leading the way. Core appliance shipments for the quarter had almost matching growth, rising 10.4 percent to 9.63 million. For the year, core shipments totaled 37.7 million, up 8 percent.
Only dishwashers and freezers managed to turn in double-digit percentage increases for the year, while dryers fell just a point short of joining that exclusive list.