WASHINGTON — Total factory shipments of six core major appliance categories — washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and ovens — rose 5 percent in February over the year ago period.
According to the latest monthly wholesale shipment data compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), gains in the so-called AHAM 6 helped offset steep unit declines in the compactor, home comfort and microwave oven categories.
Factored together, total February shipments fell 4.2 percent to 4.4 million units, and factory sales were down 6.2 percent for the first two months of the year.
The strongest performer in February was food preservation (up 7.6 percent), where a nearly 13 percent spike in refrigerator shipments helped offset a 23 percent decline in chest-style freezers.
Also mounting a strong showing was kitchen cleanup (ahead 5.4 percent), as a 6.3 percent gain in dishwasher shipments helped offset a 30 percent decline in factory sales of trash compactors.
Home laundry saw a more moderate 2.8 percent increase, which was driven by a 6.7 percent gain in electric-dryer sales that helped counter flat activity in washers.
Two categories slipped into negative territory last month: cooking and home comfort. Shipments of the former fell 3.5 percent, as a 9 percent decline in microwave ovens and a 5.3 percent falloff in gas ovens were partially offset by a 12.4 percent increase in shipments of electric ovens.
Home comfort did not fare nearly as well, falling 32 percent year over year on weakness in room air conditioners (down nearly 27 percent) and dehumidifiers (off by over 56 percent).
Some 511,200 ACs were shipped last month, compared with the 695,900 shipped in February 2009. Sales of room air conditioners stalled last summer due to unseasonably cool weather.
AHAM’s monthly majap report is compiled from manufacturer-supplied shipment data for the U.S. market and includes imported and domestically produced products. The current report covers the four weeks between Jan. 31 and Feb. 27, 2010.