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After a decade of cost cutting, consolidation, and low margins, total U.S. unit shipments during 2010 for the appliance industry was back to where it was in 2001. For the core major appliance segment, including laundry appliances, cold appliances, dishwashers, and cooking appliances, shipped units for 2010 were $38.2 million, up $1.7 million from 2009.
The global economic recovery slowed during 2011. Many U.S. major appliance categories are showing year-on-year unit shipment decreases, however, non-adjusted Electronics & Appliance Store sales for the first four months of 2011 were $31 billion, up slightly from the first four months of 2010.
Several appliance manufacturers are relying on Smart Grid and green technology to impact appliance shipments through 2011. Samsung Electronics Co. plans on using smart appliance technology to become the biggest global producer of refrigerators in 2011, according to Samsung Electronics Co. digital appliance chief Hong Chang-wan. LG Electronics Inc. plans to leverage its extensive library of consumer electronics technology currently found in its cell phone and PC business in new smart appliances. Other manufacturers plan to expand product availability. Haier Group, for example, plans to bring its Smart Life connected-appliance technology, already available in China, to the United States. Smart Life-integrated refrigerators, air-conditioners, and wine cellars use the Internet, mobile communication, and fixed phone networks to let users control home appliances remotely.
Whirlpool Corp., considered the world's biggest manufacturer of major appliances, reported full-year 2010 net sales of $18.4 billion, up 7% over 2009. During 2011, Whirlpool has remained focused on getting the highest return on every unit, introducing higher-margin appliances while achieving better efficiencies and finding growth in emerging markets.
The second-largest major appliance manufacturer, Electrolux, showed a record profit and reached the operating margin target of 6% for full-year 2010. Electrolux expects modest growth in 2011, mostly occurring in the second half, despite the cost of raw materials impacting company results. In Europe, the company is focusing much of its effort on the growing, high-margin built-in appliance segment.
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