By Alan Wolf, YSN
Last year wasn’t the best of times for appliance sales.
According to the final shipment report of 2019 from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), U.S. wholesale sales of white goods were down 4.6 percent for the year, to 75.6 million units, with declines in every major category except laundry.
Leading the downturn were room air conditioners, with factory shipments down 23.5 percent for all of 2019. Also taking it on the chin was food preservation, with freezers down 15.1 percent in units and full-size refrigerators off by 3.6 percent year over year.
It was also a tough slog for the cooking category, with cooktops down 12 percent, wall ovens off by nearly 5 percent and ranges slipping 2.6 percent for the year. Only home laundry came out clean, up 1.6 percent in unit shipments for all of 2019, with dryers ahead 2.2 percent and washers eking out a 1.2 percent gain.
But if the year was generally disappointing it ended on a somewhat promising note. Total shipments were essentially flat in December, up 0.2 percent, and while ACs plummeted by more than 40 percent, ranges rose 3.2 percent, built-in dishwashers were up 3.4 percent, and laundry shipments increased by an eye-opening 18 percent, comprised of a 16 percent spike in dryers and a 19 percent gain in washers.
The positive endnote to the year was underscored by the so-called “AHAM 6,” an amalgam of the core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories. Taken together, unit shipments of the composite category were up 6.4 percent in December — which hopefully was a harbinger of the year to come.