Factory shipments of major appliances rose 12.4 percent year-over-year for the four weeks ended Oct. 25, mirroring retailers' reports of robust demand for white goods going into the holiday selling season.
According to the latest wholesale sales data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), nearly 5.2 million units shipped that month, while year-to-date shipments grew 9.5 percent over the year-ago period to more than 61.4 million units.
The solid results were skewed, however, by exceptionally strong sales of microwave ovens. That sector skyrocketed 45 percent to 1.3 million units, propelling the total cooking category to a 25.4 percent increase but masking the more moderate gains enjoyed across most of the majap landscape.
Indeed, shipments of the consolidated AHAM 6 category – an amalgam of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and range groupings – rose by a modest 4.4 percent, while the key cooking constituents, gas and electric ranges, grew 3.8 percent and fell 1.5 percent, respectively.
Specifically, laundry sales increased 6.4 percent in October to 1.2 million units, led by a 12.6 percent surge in gas dryers, while washer shipments rose 5.3 percent to some 582,000 units.
Kitchen cleanup virtually tied its washer/dryer brethren with a 6.3 percent gain to better than 1 million units. Built-in dishwashers led the charge with a 7.8 percent increase in wholesale sales, but the category as a whole was held back by a 20 percent falloff in shipments of portable dishwashers.
Trailing the rest of the AHAM 6 constituents with a 3.7 percent rise was food preservation. Refrigerators scored a respectable 5.3 percent increase, to roughly 737,000 units, but the freezer category cooled its heels as factory shipments slipped 1.6 percent.
Also taking it on the chin was home comfort. Due to significant amounts of unsold and returned room air inventory following a temperate summer, total category performance suffered and shipments plummeted nearly 40 percent over the year-ago period.
Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances*
(In Thousands Of Units)
2003 10 mo.
2002 10 mo.