of major appliances rose 3.7 percent
in December, to some 5.1 million units.
The increase was likely spurred
by last-minute buying, as dealers
stocked up on inventory in advance
of a new round of manufacturer price
hikes that went into effect Jan. 1.
The gains helped the push 2011
shipment totals up into flat territory.
According to the latest wholesale
data from the Association of Home
Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM),
total 2011 shipments slipped just 0.4
percent year over year, to about 61.2
million units, although strength in
room air masked year-long softness in
other core majap categories.
Leading the charge in December
was chest-style freezers, shipments
of which surged 39.3 percent to approximately
The month’s second-highest gainer
was room air, which increased 33.2
percent in unit volume year over year,
to some 183,100 pieces.
Coming in at a close third were
trash compactors, shipments of
which rose 31.3 percent, to about
Also turning in a strong performance
were gas cooktops, which
were ahead 16.7 percent in December
with 30,000 units shipped.
Core categories posted more modest,
but still solid increases, at least
compared with most of 2011. Full-size
refrigerators were up nearly 5 percent,
to 740,400 units; clothes dryers
were up 3.2 percent, offsetting a 0.4
percent slip in washers; and the total
cooking category rose 2.8 percent on
strength in the aforementioned cooktops
as well as electric ranges.
December’s softest categories included
gas ovens, down 6.7 percent,
and dishwashers, down 3.1 percent.
For the full year, room air was the
hands-down winner with a 19.4 percent
gain in 2011 shipments. But the
increase stands in sharp contrast with
other core categories, which continued
to falter amid the prolonged housing
market malaise. Among the latter: home
laundry, down 6.1 percent for the year;
full-size refrigerators, down 4.1 percent;
dishwashers, down 3.1 percent;
and cooking, down nearly 1 percent.