The major appliance industry remained in the grip of the nation's housing malaise last month, with unit factory shipments sliding 4.7 percent year-over-year and year-to-date deliveries down 6.2 percent, according to data compiled by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
Much of the downturn was attributable to weak builder channel demand, as unsold inventory preempted new home construction. Dealer sales remained mixed, mirroring the strength of the local housing markets.
The steepest September declines were seen in the home comfort category, which fell 43.1 percent to 155,700 units. Within the sector, room air shipments plummeted 56.7 percent and wholesale sales of dehumidifiers fell 32.3 percent.
The drop-offs were less severe in the core kitchen and laundry categories. Cooking declined 5.7 percent overall to 2.2 million units, dragged down by a nearly 15 percent drop-off in gas-fueled surface cooking units. Indeed, declines in gas appliances in general continued to outpace those of the electric variety (2.6 percent vs. 0.7 percent). Also weighing on the sector was a 9.5 percent decline in microwave oven shipments, to 1.2 million units.
In home laundry, total shipments fell 3.7 percent in September to 1.7 million units. Once again gas took the biggest hit, with, in this case, gas dryer deliveries falling 10.4 percent vs. a 4.2 percent decline in manufacturer sales of electric dryers. The key washer category slipped 2.1 percent.
In food preservation, total shipments fell 2.1 percent to 1.4 million units on an 11.1 percent fall in upright freezer sales. The key refrigerator category, however, remained essentially flat with a 0.7 percent decline.
Kitchen clean-up fared best. Despite a 14.2 percent dip in compactor shipments, total sales grew half a percent over the prior-year period, to 1.4 million units shipped, buoyed by a 2.2 percent hike in dishwasher deliveries.
All told, the core AHAM 6 category, comprised of washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and ovens, slipped 1.6 percent for the month and 5.3 percent year-to-date.
Industry Shipments of Major Appliances
(In Thousands of Units)