Washington – Factory shipments of major appliances rebounded from their early autumn doldrums to surge 6.8 percent in November as retailers loaded up on inventory in advance of the holiday selling season.
According to wholesale sales data collected by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), vendors shipped some 5.5 million white-goods SKUs that month, raising year-to-date unit sales 4 percent over the comparable period in 2003.
Leading the charge in November was the cooking category, which bolted 10.1 percent year-over-year to 2.3 million units. The hottest sub-sector therein was gas-fueled surface cooking units, which rocketed up 26.5 percent, followed by built-in electric ranges (up 16 percent) and microwave ovens (ahead 11.5 percent). Freestanding gas ranges also turned in an admirable performance, with factory shipments climbing 8 percent to some 258,500 units.
Hot on cooking’s trail was the home laundry category, which gained 8.7 percent in November on the strength of washer and electric dryer sales. The former grew 11.4 percent with shipments of 612,200 units, bringing its year-to-date up-tick to 7.2 percent, while the latter enjoyed a 7.6 percent surge in wholesale sales. By contrast, shipments of gas-fueled dryers dried up, with the sector slipping 0.4 percent to 128,600 units.
Also realizing a brisk November business was food preservation, up 7.1 percent solely on the strength of refrigerator sales. That sector soared 9.7 percent with factory shipments of nearly 700,000 units, which offset a 2.3 percent decline in wholesale sales of chest and upright freezers.
November laggards included kitchen cleanup — off 4.1-percent year-over-year — which was dragged down by an 11.6-percent drop in disposer sales and a 4.4 decline in compactors. Also, the home comfort category continued its freefall, as some 170,000 room air units were returned.
Finally, majap’s core categories — washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and ranges, which are tracked as a composite category called the AHAM 6 — enjoyed a brisk November with shipments rising 7 percent to 3.6 million units, mirroring the total monthly tally.
Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances*
(In Thousands of Units)