The major appliance business continued its freefall in March, with factory shipments tumbling 7.8 percent to 8.2 million units, down from 8.9 million units a year ago.
According to the latest data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), wholesale sales declined across every major product category, with only dehumidifiers showing any growth.
The hardest hit sector was cooking, which fell 11.8 percent in factory shipments to 1.9 million units. Within that category, electric ranges fell 10.5 percent, electric ovens slipped 16.7 percent, and shipments of electric surface cooking units declined 19.3 percent.
Gas-fueled cooking appliances fared even worse: gas range shipments fell 14.8 percent, wholesale sales of gas ovens dropped 19.2 percent, and surface cooking units declined 15.7 percent year-over-year.
Within the kitchen clean-up category, dishwasher shipments fell by 11.9 percent, disposers fell by 4.5 percent, and shipments of trash compactors declined nearly 23 percent. Total category shipments fell 8.7 percent in March.
Similarly, food preservation showed an 8.6 percent decline in factory shipments last month, to just over 1 million units. Leading the downturn were refrigerators, down 9.4 percent to 886,100 units, and upright freezers, which declined 8.3 percent.
In home laundry, the core washer category fell 5.3 percent to approximately 953,500 units in March. In contrast, shipments of electric dryers declined 7.9 percent and wholesale sales of gas dryers dropped 11.5 percent.
The home comfort category held up better than most. The aforementioned gains in dehumidifier sales (up 31.1 percent) helped offset a 7 percent decline in room air conditioner shipments, leaving the category down a relatively modest 4.1 percent for the month.
The most telling indicator of industry adversity is the AHAM 6, a composite of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories. Group shipments fell 9.1 percent in March, to 4.2 million units, and are down 9.3 percent for the year.
Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances
(In Thousands of Units)