AC Boosts June Majap Sales 16%

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Washington — Factory shipments of major appliances soared 16 percent in June, spurred by late-in-the-season sales of room air conditioners following the first stretch of warm weather.

According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which compiles the monthly wholesale data, total unit sales of all white goods topped out at 8.4 million, compared to the 7.2 million pieces sold in June 2002.

Following a dismal seasonal start due to a cold, wet spring in much of the country, AC sales rocketed during the month, registering a 59 percent gain to 1.6 million units. Dehumidifiers also did well in June, scoring a 53 percent gain in wholesale sales to 211,000 units.

But the return of higher temperatures had a lesser impact on refrigerator demand. Shipments were up a more modest, but still respectable, 4.7 percent to 1.1 million units, which represents a reprieve for a category whose year-to-date sales through June were down nearly 2 percent.

More robust activity was seen in the cooking category. There, shipments of gas ranges rose 10.4 percent, led by a nearly 20 percent hike in surface cooking unit volume, while their electric brethren enjoyed an 8.5 percent spike in sales. Also aiding the sector was a 13.2 percent rise in microwave oven shipments, to 1.6 million units in June.

The lone drag on category sales came from built-in gas ranges, which were down 1 percent for the month and 11.4 percent year to date.

Kitchen clean up also cleaned up, as a nearly 13 percent gain in sales of portable dishwashers lifted total category sales 7.1 percent to 1.6 million units.

In home laundry sales, dryers continued to outpace washers, with the former up 7.2 percent compared to the latter's 4.9 percent gain.

All told, June was a solid month for majaps, as indicated by the 6 percent gain for the AHAM 6 category, an amalgamation of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and range sectors that provides a snapshot of industry commerce. Total units topped 4.2 million, up from 4.0 million last year, although year-to-date shipments are still down 0.4 percent, reflecting the challenging first two quarters.

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