The new year is not favoring the major appliance business.
Following a rocky start in January, factory shipments of white-goods fell further in February year over year. According to the latest monthly tabulation from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), unit volume dropped 7.8 percent last month, to about 5.6 million units, down from 6 million shipped in February 2018, when total shipments were up 4.2 percent.
The downturn — attributable in part to stiffer import tariffs, higher cost and retail prices, the tough year-ago comparisons and general trade uncertainty — was largely felt across the board, with the AHAM 6 classification, comprised of core kitchen and laundry products, tumbling 8 percent from last year.
Leading the decline was room air, cooling off by 15.3 percent at a time when the category is typically ramping up for the warmer weather to come. Nearly matching the downturn was laundry, the target of protectionist surcharges that went into effect last year.
Also feeling the pinch: dishwashers, down 5.6 percent, and cooking, off by 4.9 percent, with wall ovens and cooktops bearing the brunt of the retreat.
The one relatively bright spot: refrigeration, with shipments of full-size fridges essentially flat at a 0.7 percent decline, AHAM reported.