Major appliance retailers are weathering the white-good industry's current malaise better than manufacturers, recent data from The NPD Group suggests.
While factory sales to builders have suffered amid the housing market downturn, cutting into vendor profitability, consumer data collected and compiled by NPD's Home business unit shows that retail sales remained fairly buoyant during the first half of 2007, and have actually exceeded last year's unit volume growth rate.
Total majap sell-through surpassed 31.9 million units for the January through June time period, representing a 3.4 percent increase over the year-ago period. This compares to a 2.8 percent increase in unit volume between January-June 2005 and the comparable six months in 2006.
Viewed by category, range hoods enjoyed the greatest growth this year, with a 17.3 percent increase in unit volume over the comparable period in 2006, to nearly 1.7 million units. By contrast, the category grew 4.6 percent between the first six months of 2005 and the first half of 2006.
Coming in a close second were dishwashers, with unit volume gains of 16.6 percent during the first half of 2007, to nearly 2.5 million units. The category turned in a comparable performance for the prior year period, rising 16.3 percent.
NPD reports that stainless steel continues to gain favor as dishwasher finish, with unit sales of those models up 42 percent during the first half of the year. Indeed, stainless now represents 28 percent of the dishwasher market, behind white, which comprises 39 percent of unit sales.
The worst performing category by contrast was ovens, falling nearly 17 percent in unit volume during the first half of 2007 to 401,000 units, after rocketing 30.2 percent during the prior-year period. NPD says electric-fueled models are still showing some spark, with ranges up 8 percent in unit sales and cooktops ahead 28 percent for the first half of the year.
Also slogging it out during the January through June period was room air conditioners, retail sales of which fell 11.2 percent to 3.3 million units.
Among majap's mainstays, unit sales of washers and clothes dryers rose a respectable 7.3 percent and 6.2 percent during the first half of the year. NPD reports that top-load washers represented fully 40 percent of unit sales between January and June, and that colored laundry finishes, including black and stainless, gave basic white a run for the money.
Less robust was refrigeration. Unit volume was essentially flat, slipping 0.8 percent to 5.4 million refrigerators sold during the first six months of the year. NPD says category declines are being somewhat offset by growth in French door configurations, which combine the best elements of side-by-side and bottom mount designs.
In terms of finish, white and stainless accounted for 85 percent of refrigerator sales during the period, although the greatest growth was seen in stainless and black.
Microwave ovens, which enjoyed 6.2 percent growth during the first half, also earned the distinction of volume leader, with nearly 6.4 million units sold. Refrigeration came in second for total units sold.
Unit Volume (000)
Unit Percent Change
2006 vs. 2005
2007 vs. 2006