Retail sales of major appliances slipped 1.6 percent to $25.6 billion in 2007, while unit volume remained essentially flat year-over-year, off just 0.2 percent to 64.1 million units.
The results, compiled by The NPD Group via its consumer tracking service, provide a rosier perspective of the majap market than total-industry figures that include the distressed home-builder channel. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which tracks manufacturers’ shipments through all channels of distribution, reported that total unit volume declined 6.3 percent last year.
According to NPD’s retail results, home laundry, dishwashers and ranges showed the most dollar growth in 2007, with new technology, energy efficiency and style driving the shift.
Dollar sales for the home-laundry category, consisting of clothes dryers and washing machines, grew more than 5 percent in 2007 vs. the prior year. Front-loading washing machines, which provide greater energy efficiency, larger capacities and fatter margins, continue to fuel growth. The category now represents more than 40 percent of the total washer market after growing 20 percent in unit volume last year.
The most dramatic sales growth was seen in dishwashers, which increased nearly 10 percent in dollar sales and more than 6 percent in unit sales year-over-year. Sales of Energy Star-rated dishwashers also increased, along with average selling prices.
Another bright spot was ranges and range hoods, which grew more than 8 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in dollar volume.
“Today’s time-starved consumers are looking for ways to get time back into their lives to spend on leisure activities,” said Mark Delaney, a services director for NPD’s home division. “Appliances that deliver performance while demonstrating concern for the environment, either through energy savings or water conservation, will outperform.”
Not all majaps enjoyed gains in 2007, with an equal number impacted by the declining housing market. Refrigeration was among those categories that fared poorly in 2007, falling nearly 10 percent in dollar volume, although French-door fridges were a standout. While the three-door configuration still comprises a small segment of the market, its unit share grew from 8 percent in 2006 to 15 percent last year, while dollar share more than doubled from 11 percent, to 25 percent. French-door models ostensibly took share from bottom mounts, whose dollar share fell from 16 percent, to 7 percent, and from side-by-sides, which saw dollar share slip from 48 percent, to 42 percent, of the refrigeration market.
Other distressed categories included microwave ovens, down 11 percent in dollar volume; cooktops, down 14 percent in dollar volume; and full-sized ovens, down 22 percent in dollar volume.
This year, Delaney expects macroeconomic pressures will catch up with the premium end of the majap spectrum. “As evidenced by the tone at the recent International Builder’s Show and the uncertain economic climate, the higher-end major appliance models will likely take the biggest hit. Many consumers are scaling back on these purchases, moving toward more practical purchasing,” he said.
“I believe the consumer sentiment at present will drive a more cautious approach as consumers are still looking for quality, but focusing more on price and energy savings, less on upgrading to get the extra bells and whistles. Manufacturers and retailers may need to re-examine their assortment over the near year or so to better align with what the consumer is willing to spend,” he observed.
Refrigerators & Washing Machines
January – December
Majap Dollar, Unit Volume