The major appliance business is barreling into 2018 on a head of steam, or so it would appear.
According to the latest factory shipment data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), vendors moved a total of 79.1 million units last year, representing a 5.8 percent increase over 2016.
The largest volume category was cooking, which saw more than 22.5 million units shipped to U.S. retailers, for a year-over-year gain of 7.4 percent.
Within cooking, microwave ovens were hot, shipping the most units (12.6 million) and enjoying the biggest increase (11 percent) within the category.
But when it came to gains, cooking took second place to the home comfort sector, shipments of which rose 17.2 percent, to 10.4 million units last year. Both room air conditioners and dehumidifiers were on a tear, with ACs up 17 percent, to 8 million units shipped, and dehumidifiers rising more than 18 percent, to some 2.3 million units out the door.
More moderate were the increases in home laundry (up 3.2 percent), and refrigeration and kitchen clean up (up 2.5 percent each). Specifically, shipments of clothes washers rose 2.9 percent last year, while dishwashers were up 3.5 percent despite an 8.8 percent decline in portable models.
Those last sectors proved a drag on the AHAM 6, a compilation of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories that provides a snapshot of industry health. Minus the assist from home comfort, shipments rose a modest 2.9 percent, to 47.7 million units.
In comparison to last year’s 5.8 percent gain, total industry shipments rose 3.3 percent in 2016; 8.1 percent in 2015; 4.9 percent in 2014; and 5.1 percent in 2013, according to AHAM figures.
The majap biz ended 2017 on a strong note, with December shipments up 7 percent, to 6.9 million units, led by an 86.3 percent increase in home comfort volume and an 11.3 percent rise in ranges, cooktops, wall ovens and microwaves. The AHAM 6, however, remained stubbornly low with yuletide growth of just 2 percent.