Factory shipments of major appliances fell 4.1 percent for the four weeks ended January 29, 2005, according to the latest wholesale figures released by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
The decline follows a retail buying binge late last year as dealers laid in inventory in advance of steep vendor price hikes that went into effect in January.
The downturn was even sharper for the core AHAM 6 sector, comprised of the mainstay laundry, dishwasher, food preservation and range categories, which fell 8.4 percent to 2.8 million units.
The largest decline by product category was seen in food preservation, whose unit volume fell 14.1 percent year-over-year. Chest-type freezers saw the biggest drop, down 27.5 percent to some 83,900 units. But the core refrigerator sector was also hit by double-digit declines, which shipments down 11.3 percent to about 568,500 units.
Also feeling the pinch of higher steel and fuel prices was the cooking category, which declined 10.4 percent in January to 1.6 million units. Taking the brunt of the downturn were microwave ovens, with declines of nearly 14 percent, and electric surface cooking units, sales of which were off by 11.9 percent. Only built-in gas ranges and gas-fueled surface cooking units remained relatively flat.
Also taking it on the chin was home laundry, which fell 8.6 percent overall to 1.1 million units. Washing machines fared best, slipping only 6.6 percent, while gas-fueled dryers suffered the biggest category decline at 12.7 percent.
Only two categories showed shipment gains for the month: kitchen clean up, up 1.3 percent, and home comfort, which soared 44.4 percent. The former was lead by factory shipments of garbage disposers, whose 5.8-percent gain helped offset a nearly 13-percent decline in trash compactors.
In home comfort, room air mounted a major reversal from last year’s poor fortunes with an approximate 45.8 percent gain in wholesale sales, while dehumidifier shipments were up 32.6 percent. [Note: AHAM estimated a portion of the January room air conditioner shipments figure and will apply any revisions to its February report.
Industry Shipments of Major Appliances*
(In Thousands of Units)