Big demand for room air conditioners during the dog days of August helped prop up wholesale sales of major appliances last month.
Factory shipments of ACs skyrocketed 51.6 percent in August to nearly 200,000 units, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) reported. But according to the trade group’s latest wholesale figures, unit shipments of the industry’s six core categories – washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and ovens – fell 4.8 percent year over year, revealing the underlying weakness in the marketplace.
Total majap shipments were essentially flat, slipping 0.6 percent to 4.4 million units in August and 0.5 percent year to date.
Only two other categories, kitchen cleanup and cooking, posted gains last month. The former was up 2 percent in unit factory shipments on strength in portable dishwashers, which surged 18.3 percent, while cooking edged up 1.6 percent solely on the back of microwave ovens, which enjoyed an 8.4 percent spike last month. All other cooking sub-sectors fell by mid-single to double-digit percentages year over year.
Elsewhere, food preservation fell by 4.1 percent during what is traditionally a strong month for the category on big drops in stand-alone freezers and a 2.7 percent decline in refrigerators, to some 805,000 units. Refrigeration is now down 6.3 percent for the year.
Home laundry took an even bigger hit, down 8.1 percent on a 10.1 percent decline in clothes washers and a 5.4 percent drop in dryers. Like refrigeration, laundry is now down 6.2 percent for the year.
The monthly AHAM report is based on vendor-supplied data for the U.S. market. The August figures include shipments of imported and domestically produced products for the fourweek period between July 31 and Aug. 27.