NEW YORK — Retail sales of major appliances by the industry’s 100 largest dealers fell by the mid-single digits for the second consecutive year in 2009.
According to the annual TWICE Top 100 Appliance Retailers Report, prepared with market research partner The Stevenson Company, white-goods sales slipped 3.7 percent last year to $22.6 billion for the topranked retailers, which accounted for more than 90 percent of U.S. appliance sell-through.
Nevertheless, the Top 100 dealers continued to outpace the major appliance industry, which slid 6.5 percent last year — its fourth consecutive year of declines — as the home-builder channel remained mired in overcapacity.
In fact, the downturn began to ease for dealers last year, as the rate of decline slowed from the 4.7 percent dip reported by TWICE for the 2008 calendar year.
Contributing to the improvement were the first faint signs of an economic recovery, as federal bailout funds helped the financial sector find its footing following the post-Lehman Brothers freefall.
Dealers also benefitted from the closure of competitors. Buying groups estimate that between 10 percent and 14 percent of the independent channel called it quits during the depths of the recession, although casualties continue to mount, most notably with the bankruptcy of Bernie’s earlier this year.
Perhaps the biggest boost to Top 100 sales was the decision by major appliance retailers and manufacturers to participate in a major way in Black Friday promotions. Taking a cue from the sister CE trade, white-goods partners mounted aggressive, day-after-Thanksgiving doorbuster promotions that helped jumpstart stagnant sales. Deals included a Whirlpool Duet laundry pair for less than $1,000 (at Lowe’s), and a $500 Frigidaire top-load laundry pair (at P.C. Richard & Son).
Apparently the ploy worked: According to comparison shopping service Top 100 Majap Dealers See 3.7% Decline in Sales in ’09 PriceGrabber.com, sales of laundry pairs, which was one of the most heavily discounted categories that weekend, rose 70 percent year over year on Black Friday.
Still, the relatively mild 3.7 percent decline belies the volatility behind the Top 100 sales average. Results ranged from the 23 percent spike attributed to Airport Home Appliance (No. 42) to Urner’s precipitous 26 percent plunge, which put it in 96th place, down from 88 last year.
At the other end of the appliance spectrum, Sears retained its crown as the No. 1 retailer of major appliances, but continued to cede share as white-goods sales declined 8.2 percent last year despite steep and relentless price promotions.
Nipping at its heels was Lowe’s, which managed to eke out a nearly 4 percent gain, to $4.5 billion, buoyed by a broader assortment, a higher close rate and more new stores than its homeimprovement rivals.
Next year’s tally should show continued gains thanks to the $300 million federal stimulus program.
NEW YORK — The TWICE Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report ranks the leading domestic white-goods dealers by sales of major appliances for the 2009 calendar year.
Sales figures are based on information that was supplied by retailers responding to a survey by TWICE and its research partner The Stevenson Company. Absent their input, estimates were developed from Stevenson’s internal market tracking surveys (TraQline) and industry sizing based on wholesale shipment fi gures from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), average retail price points by products, housing market data and other sources.
All estimates were further refined and submissions vetted using public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), TWICE industry analyses, financial analysts’ reports, published data and other sources. Sales figures for 2009 were then compared to 2008 sales tallies and adjusted if necessary to more closely track industrywide revenue growth.
Major appliance dealers must meet the following criteria to be considered for inclusion:
• sell new products directly to consumers;
• have brick-and-mortar retail stores or a significant online presence;
• sell major appliances as one of their principal lines of business;
• do not sell solely to the builder channel or to multi-family dwellings; and
• sell at least one of the following major appliance categories as defined by AHAM: washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ranges, cooktops, wall ovens, microwave ovens, room air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
Sales are considered to be the revenue received for merchandise only, and which is sold solely through the retail channel.
Stevenson, based in Louisville, Ky., has served the majap industry for the past 16 years, more recently adding CE to its service portfolio. Its TraQline syndicated quarterly survey of 150,000 shoppers measures retail purchases of consumer durables, and provides estimates of unit and dollar market share and other key data points.