WASHINGTON – An apparent glut of room air conditioners was a major factor behind a decline in factory shipments of major appliances last month.
Total domestic shipments slipped 3.3 percent to 7.3 million units amid a surfeit of ACs left over from last year’s relatively mild summer.
According to the latest vendor data compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), room air shipments declined 30.9 percent year-over-year, to about 1.5 million units. The category is down 7.9 percent year to date.
Also taking it on the chin were gas ovens, posting a 14.9 percent drop in wholesale unit volume. The decline was offset by a nearly 19 percent gain in microwave oven shipments, and a 12 percent spike in electric ranges, to give the overall cooking category a 13.8 percent boost for the month.
Elsewhere, demand was relatively flat in laundry, kitchen cleanup and food preservation. Within the former, shipments were essentially unchanged year over year, with washers up 0.1 percent and dryers down by 0.2 percent.
Kitchen cleanup eked out a 0.2 percent gain on 1.7 percent in dishwasher shipments, offsetting a 1.2 percent dip in disposers.
And a 6.5 percent decline in standalone freezer shipments froze out food preservation, which fell 1.4 percent for the month but is still up 2.7 percent year to date on a 3.5 percent gain in refrigeration for the first quarter.
Providing a snapshot of the marketplace, the so-called AHAM 6, comprised of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, ranges and oven categories, edged up 1.4 percent in March but only managed a 0.8 percent gain for the year.
Total industry shipments are up 1.3 percent for the first three months of 2015, to 17.6 million units.
AHAM’s monthly tabulations include U.S. market shipments whether imported or produced domestically, and exclude exports. The report covers the four weeks from March 1 to April 4.