With the fourth quarter of 2002 finally showing some strong signs of an economic recovery, manufacturers can now look ahead more optimistically to 2003.
The fourth quarter is seeing fewer new claims for unemployment, a slight increase in personal income, and a rally in the stock market. If interest rates and inflation remain low, consumer confidence, and thus consumer spending, should pick up momentum as we enter 2003. The Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturers Association believes these factors will help maintain strong sales of residential vacuums throughout 2003.
New product innovations, performance enhancements, and a focus on indoor air quality influence consumers in their buying decisions when selecting new vacuums. While the vacuum industry is a mature industry, consumer preferences for additional features, such as bagless units, convenience, ease of handling, multiple units within a home for various tasks, efficiency, and improved performance all contribute to strong sales.
Industry unit sales of full size household vacuum cleaners (including uprights, canisters and stick) rose from 9.3 million in 1985 to more than 19 million in 2001, with 2002 projected to end at approximately 19.6 million units. Sales of central vacuum cleaners have also grown significantly during the 15 years that the Association has tracked this information. VCMA anticipates an increase in unit sales of approximately 3 percent during 2003.
In addition to sustaining the economic recovery, retail consolidation, global product sourcing, and pricing pressures continue to be major concerns for manufacturers in the industry. VCMA will work with its members in 2003 to meet these challenges and remain strong in the years ahead.
VCMA has completed its first year of being managed by a professional trade association management firm. The Association is expanding its statistical programs, increasing its committee activities and working to increase the value it provides to its members on an ongoing basis.
The newly formed Indoor Air Quality Committee is taking a proactive role in addressing vacuum cleaner's impact on indoor air quality. The reality is that vacuum cleaners, in their ability to get dirt out of carpet, perform a vital service. Vacuum cleaners are beneficial not only from an aesthetic standpoint by cleaning, grooming and protecting carpet, but also from a health standpoint. They greatly reduce allergens that can trigger allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases. The Association is taking a proactive role in delivering this message to consumers and has recently launched a new Web site to provide ongoing communication on this and other topics.
The Central Vacuum Committee has been closely involved in the development of a new standard for residential central vacuum systems installations. ASTM F2158, Standard Specification for Residential Central Vacuum Tube and Fittings, offers an installation guide and material specification for tubing and fittings used in central vacuum system installations. Adherence to this standard will ensure builders that the central vacuum installation will be professional and meet building codes while consumers will be assured of quality system performance.
The Technical Committee of VCMA works in conjunction with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM F11 Vacuum Cleaner Committee was formed in 1972. There are 33 task groups and subcommittees that help to develop standards. The main goal of the committee is to develop standards related to safety and performance characteristics relative to vacuum cleaners and vacuum cleaning systems.
The focus of the ASTM is surface cleaning ability comparisons and providing information that will assist consumers when purchasing products. Currently, three main areas that are under development to help achieve these goals are carpet standardization, filtration and extractor wet cleaning test method.
The main goal and focus of the VCMA Technical Committee is to incorporate the introduction of new technology, products and product features of vacuum cleaners and vacuum cleaning systems into the standards relating to safety and performance characteristics. These standards are always developed to benefit the purchaser and user of the product.