— Factory shipments of major appliances edged up 0.6 percent in August to less than 4.4 million units as sales momentum from the federal stimulus rebate program continues to wane.
The latest wholesale sales figures compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) also show that the industry’s six core categories — washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and ovens — actually fell 2.7 percent from August 2009, when shipments dropped 7.3 percent.
The weakest categories for the month were laundry, down 6.7 percent; cooking, down 1.4 percent; and kitchen cleanup, down 0.2 percent, although increases in food preservation, up 5.9 percent, and particularly home comfort, up 44.3 percent, helped offset the declines.
The biggest losers were portable dishwashers, down 21.7 percent; gas ovens, down 13.7 percent; and electric dryers, down 11.4 percent.
The biggest gainers were room air, up a whopping 115.7 percent due to an unusually hot and prolonged summer; and refrigerators, another seasonal category that rose a healthy 9.4 percent.
Despite the late summer slowdown the industry is still up 3.6 percent for the year, with some 42.4 million units delivered to retailers and builders through Aug. 28.