WASHINGTON – The white-goods industry took a breather in January, with factory shipments falling 1.3 percent year over year.
According to the latest wholesale data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), growth slowed significantly last month from December, when unit volume rose 11.6 percent year over year.
Driving the decline was the kitchen clean up category, which fell nearly 11 percent on a 17.2 percent drop in compactor shipments and a 16 percent slide in wholesale disposer sales. Dishwashers fared better, slipping 3.7 percent last month.
Also taking it on the chin was home laundry, which declined nearly 1 percent on the whole, but saw a precipitous 10.6 percent decline in gas dryer shipments. Washers held up better, remaining essentially flat at a decline of 0.5 percent.
Also coming in flat in January was cooking. Despite an 8.6 percent drop in gas ovens and a 3.6 percent decrease in gas ranges, the overall category slipped just 0.1 percent, with microwave ovens (up 1.3 percent) and gas cooktops (up 1.1 percent) offsetting the declines.
But the winter doldrums ended there. Both food preservation (up 5.1 percent) and home comfort (ahead 4.4 percent) turned in solid performances. The former was led by a 7.2 percent spike in full-size refrigerators, which offset a 4.5 percent drop in freestanding freezers, while the latter saw room air rebound to a 6.3 percent gain, offsetting a double-digit decline in dehumidifier shipments.
Encapsulating industry performance in January was the bellwether AHAM 6, a composite of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories. According to the trade association, this product group remained essentially flat, slipping 0.1 percent to about 2.6 million units.
Total industry shipments reached 4.9 million units for the month.