Issue: January 2010 APPLIANCE Magazine
A Realistic Recovery
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Tim Somheil, editor
The numbers are finally starting to show an appliance recovery under way.
There was pervasive uncertainty
at the end of 2008. No one knew what was coming next. Could the economy
be pulled back from the brink? Was the very different approach of the
incoming national leadership going to be the right
approach to solving these huge problems, or was it too much change, too
fast? Contention was already building over how to implement
stimulus—and some thought any stimulus package would be a costly
That’s how it was in late 2008 when APPLIANCE magazine was writing its annual Industry Forecasts for the January 2009 issue.
But there was some consensus about what the future probably
held in store. Best case scenario: housing would finally bottom out in
2009, and then begin a long, slow recovery. Congress would pass some
sort of stimulus that would nudge housing along and breathe life into
consumer spending. Employment would turn around late—simply because
employment always lags in an economic recovery.
CEO Jeff Fettig said in late 2008 that he did not expect a turnaround
in industry demand until at least mid-year 2009, and he expected major
appliance shipments to finish out 2009 down 9–10%.
projections, it turns out, were on target. Houses began to
sell—decreased prices and a significant tax credit of $8000 made home
ownership an affordable reality for many buyers. Major appliance unit
shipments, as reported by the Association of Home Appliance
Manufacturers (AHAM), showed signs of improvement. An AHAM report
showed that the “AHAM 6” category of appliances (washers, dryers,
dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges, and ovens) was up 1.5% in
September 2009 compared with September 2008—the first such increase
since the month of June 2007.
After a slight drop in October 2009 (–1.7%), November saw the AHAM 6 category register a big
single-month increase of 16.3%. The exceptional results from November
improved year-to-date shipment numbers, which had been down
double-digits, to –9.1%. With only one month left to report, 2009 is
actually on target to end as Fettig and others in the industry
HVAC shipments are also moving in
the right direction, and statistics from the Air-Conditioning, Heating,
and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) showed that October 2009 residential
furnace shipments were up 8.6% over October 2008. Residential water
heaters also squeaked into positive territory at 0.3%.
appears to have peaked at 10.2%, never having reached the 10.8% of the
less-severe 1982 recession. That’s good news when looking at the big
picture of the overall recovery, but scant comfort to the millions of
Americans still out of work. Unemployment will continue to undermine
the country’s confidence.
The recovery may be
here, but it is not going to be easy or quick. Industry cost-cutting
continues to be painful. Now the industry is working hard to make the
most of the ever-heightening focus on energy efficiency and Smart
Grid–enabled appliances. This burgeoning early replacement market for
home appliances could help boost sales and restore health of the
Saying Goodbye to Doc Chase
we lost Dana Chase Jr. in October 2009. “Doc” Chase was the man at the
helm of APPLIANCE magazine for many decades and he was a significant
figure in the appliance industry.
graduated from Ohio University in 1950 and within days he joined the
staff of the magazine that his father, Dana Chase Sr., had founded at
the close of World War II. Aside from two years spent serving in the
Army in the Korean conflict, Doc dedicated his entire career to
publishing for the appliance industry. Even in semi-retirement, Doc
Chase continued to have active and daily involvement in this magazine.
He served as editorial director until 2007, when APPLIANCE was acquired
by Canon Communications LLC.
Doc Chase is
remembered for his integrity and for his good humor. His influence on
this magazine, and on the appliance industry, is still strongly felt.
He will be missed.