Perhaps confirming the start of the long-awaited economic recovery, but also reflecting last year's stagnant market, factory shipments of major appliances rocketed 15.2 percent last month over the year-ago period to 6.9 million units.
According to vendor sales data crunched by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the cooking and home laundry segments lead the large appliance charge with gains of 17.1 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively.
Also adding zest to the sales totals was the home comfort category, which shot up 89.2 percent largely on the strength of dehumidifier shipments.
In cooking, the sales leader was microwave ovens, shipments of which rose 19.1 percent to 1.5 million units. Coming in a close second was freestanding electric ranges, which enjoyed an 18 percent hike in wholesale sales to some 453,600 units.
The sales race among home laundry sub-sectors was close, with shipments of electric dryers — up 17.3 percent — edging out the pack. The field includes automatic washers, ahead 16.2 percent to some 858,800 units, and gas dryers, up 15.4 percent.
Also scoring a double-digit gain was food preservation, which rose 11.2 percent for the month, while the kitchen cleanup category trailed all sectors with a nonetheless respectable 9.2 percent rise.
The latter was adversely impacted by a 12.8 percent dip in shipments of portable dishwashers, but was buoyed by compactors — up 29.1 percent — and disposers, up 16.6 percent. The core built-in dishwasher segment, which had been a year-long sales leader among the AHAM-tracked categories, rose by a more modest 3 percent.
In food preservation, the bellwether refrigeration segment grew a healthy 14.2 percent, with 1.6 million units shipped in September. Its category companion, upright and chest-style freezers, did not fare as well, taking a back seat to fridges with a slim 3.4 percent gain.
The majap rebound was re-confirmed by a 12.3 percent spike in wholesale sales of the AHAM 6, an amalgam of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and range categories. That classification saw shipments grow to nearly 4.6 million units last month, up from 4.1 million in Sept. 2002.
Industry Shipments Of Major Appliances* (In Thousands Of Units)
2003 9 mo.
2002 9 mo.