By Alan Wolf

Yes, we all know Lowe’s is a competitor. But it’s also the largest appliance competitor in the country, so when the folks from Mooresville, N.C., speak, it doesn’t hurt to listen.

In a recent online missive, the home improvement chain shared several product trends in major appliances, including finish and configuration. Among the former, stainless steel still reigns supreme, with nearly half (47.6 percent) of its refrigerator sales featuring that finish last year, an increase of 6.2 percent since 2013.

Although stainless’ standing may not be surprising, the growing dominance of black appliances is. Black finishes, including black stainless, black matte or black slate, comprised close to a quarter of the box chain’s appliance sales in 2018, an increase of 7.5 percent since 2013.

And while white still outpaces black on the retailer’s sales floors, commanding nearly 29 percent of appliance sales in 2018, demand has fallen almost 14 percent over the trailing five years. The one exception: West Virginia, the only state where white remains the top appliance choice.

On the washer front, top loaders have fully reclaimed the laundry throne after what appeared to be a rising tide of front loaders. Indeed, four out of five washers sold at Lowe’s are of the top-load variety vs. the horizontal drum contingent.

Also surprising is consumers’ penchant for electric vs. gas ranges. Despite the popularity of pro-style products and celebrity chefs (who generally prefer an open flame), the vast majority of ranges sold by Lowe’s are powered by electricity – owing perhaps to the easier cleanup of glass cooktops. Nevertheless, there are still eight states where gas wins out: California, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island.

A final factoid: Floridians purchased more ranges from Lowe’s last year than customers in any other state.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.