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May Majap Shipments Fell 11.4%

The housing and macroeconomic malaise that has gripped the major appliance industry continued to depress factory shipments in May.

According to the latest data compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), factory shipments of major appliances fell 11.4 percent that month to 6.3 million units, down from 7.1 million shipped during the year-ago period.

Leading the slide was the home comfort category, down 21.9 percent to 1.4 million units. Dehumidifiers took the bulk of the hit with a 39.1 percent decline, although wholesale sales of room air conditioners also cooled, down 18.7 percent.

The second largest category drop was seen in kitchen cleanup, which fell 13 percent to just over 1 million units. Portable dishwashers were the big losers here, down 23.3 percent, followed by disposers, shipments of which declined 22.2 percent. Built-in dishwashers, the category’s core sub-sector, were less severely impacted, slipping only 3 percent in shipments year-over-year.

Cooking came in just behind kitchen cleanup, falling 12.8 percent in wholesale sales to 1.6 million units. Sales of gas-fueled units, down 7.4 percent, fell faster than their electric counterparts, which slipped 4.4 percent, while shipments of microwave ovens plummeted 18.2 percent.

Also feeling the sting of a moribund marketplace was food preservation, off 9.7 percent from May 2006 to some 985,200 units. Taking it on the chin was upright freezers (down 22.8 percent), while the core refrigerator category saw shipments slide 9.5 percent.

The only relief came from home laundry, which bucked the industry trend by posting a 6.2 percent increase in sales, led by a nearly 9 percent increase in dryer shipments and a 4 percent gain in washers. Despite the reprieve, however, laundry is still down year-to-date by 4.3 percent over last year.

The birds’ eye view was less dour, as the AHAM 6, an amalgam of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories, limited its losses to 2.2 percent.

Industry Shipments of Major Appliances

(In Thousands of Units)