WASHINGTON — The U.S. major appliance industry ended 2014 on a powerful note.
Factory shipments rose 11.6 percent in December to 6.1 million units, and full-year shipments rose 5.5 percent to 67.5 million units, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) reported.
Leading the charge in December were three sectors: kitchen cleanup, laundry and refrigeration, which saw gains of 20.2 percent, 19.8 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively.
Within kitchen cleanup, disposers soared 24 percent in wholesale unit volume, followed by dishwashers at 16.7 percent.
In laundry, washers led dryers 21 percent to 18 percent, and electric models out-shipped gas-fueled products 19 percent to 14 percent.
In refrigeration, a 20.4 percent spike in refrigerator sales was partially offset by a nearly 11-percent decline in chest-style freezers.
Also showing sharp declines were shipments of gas ovens, which fell 18 percent and dragged down an otherwise solid month for the cooking category, which enjoyed mid- to high single-digits increases for gas and electric ranges. But demand for electric ovens was also weak, with shipments up just 1.2 percent, and microwave ovens edged up a modest 2.7 percent.
Taking the biggest hit was home comfort, which is still recovering from a disappointing summer and showed a 34.8 percent decline in factory sales.
But the core AHAM 6 category, an amalgam comprised of washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and ovens, showed a robust 15.3 percent hike in December.
For the full year, top performers included dehumidifiers (up 54 percent); dishwashers (up 9.5 percent); and gas-fueled cooktops (ahead 8.7 percent). Biggest losers included the aforementioned ACs (down 11.2 percent); gas ovens (down 9.6 percent); and trash compactors (down 8.7 percent).
In contrast, the AHAM 6 showed a 5.9 percent gain for 2014, reflecting the housing market recovery and improving macro-economic conditions.