Weak across-the-board demand for majaps compounded by steep declines in room air sales sent July factory shipments of white goods down 1.2 percent year over year, according to the latest data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
AC wholesale sales plummeted 64 percent to about 337,000 units in July thanks to unusually cool summer temperatures in the category's core Northeast and Midwest markets. Conversely, strong demand for humidifiers propelled shipments of those products 62.2 percent-higher than the year-ago period, which limited the declines for the total home comfort category to 46.1 percent.
Also turning in paltry performances were home laundry (up 3 percent) and kitchen cleanup (up .9 percent). Within the former, wholesale sales of clothes washers slipped .1 percent to some 590,400 units in July, while dryer shipments grew by .7 percent, reflecting a 1.8 percent gain in electric models and a 3.4 percent drop-off in gas units.
Results for kitchen cleanup reflect a 5.8 percent hike in factory sales of dishwashers, offset by a 3.2 percent decline in disposer sales.
Refrigerators fared better, despite the cool summer climes. Shipments grew 5.5 percent to 897,900 units, although sales of freestanding freezers fell 6.2 percent, leaving the food preservation category with a net gain of 3.2 percent for the month.
The big winner in July was cooking, which enjoyed a category-wide gain of 9.6 percent to 1.9 million units. Fueling that fire was a 13.2 percent increase in shipments of microwave ovens; an 11.7 percent spike in surface cooking unit sales; and an 8.6 percent gain in shipments of built-in electric ranges. Indeed, electric models outshined their gas-fueled brethren, with sales of the latter slipping .2 percent in July.
The month's lackluster performance is also reflected in the tepid sales results for the so-called AHAM 6, an amalgamation of the industry's core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and range categories. Factory sales for the group edged up a modest 2.5 percent year-over-year to 3.3 million units, but are still ahead 7.9 percent for the year.
The 3.4 percent gain in year-to-date sales of all major appliances lags the AHAM 6, but is in line with long-term industry averages.
Industry Shipments of Major Appliances*
(In Thousands of Units)
2004 7 mos.
2003 7 mos.