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Core Categories Up 5% In Feb.

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

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.