Factory shipments of major appliances declined 12.7 percent in unit volume in July from the year-ago period, according to the latest data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), reflecting mounting woes within the housing market.
Moderately steady sales at retail could not compensate for the falloff in builder channel volume, which accounts for as much as half of some manufacturers' throughput.
Leading the falloff was home comfort, with total shipments down 25.5 percent from July 2006. Room air declined 26.5 percent to about 271,100 units for the month, while dehumidifier shipments dropped 22 percent.
The next biggest hit came in cooking, down 17.8 percent to 1.4 million units. The steepest drop was in microwave ovens, off 29.2 percent to about 783,100 units shipped. By contrast, electric cooking was actually up 3.2 percent, one of the few sub-categories to enjoy gains in July, while gas cooking was essentially flat year-over-year.
Double-digit declines were also recorded in kitchen clean-up, led by a 23.6 percent drop in portable dishwasher shipments, while built-in dishwasher factory sales were flat.
Home laundry also took it on the chin in July, down 9.8 percent category-wide. The decline was comprised of an 11.9 percent drop in washer shipments, to some 589,800 units, and an 8.8 percent decline in electric clothes dryers. Gas-heated dryer shipments were flat.
Food preservation was the best-performing category with a 3.8 percent decline overall. The core refrigerator sub-category slipped 6.5 percent to approximately 875,900 units, offset by a 12.1 percent spike in freezer shipments.
All told, the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories — the so-called AHAM 6 — fell 4.4 percent for the month and 5 percent year to date through July.
Industry Shipments of Major Appliances
(In Thousands of Units)