U.S. appliance sales rose nearly 10 percent last year as Americans bought refrigerators and washers for new homes, according to a survey of retailers.
Research on the 100 top U.S. appliance retailers published this week by TWICE>, a bi-weekly trade magazine, showed appliance sales nationwide jumped to U.S. $18.1 billion in 2003, up 9.4 percent from $16.4 billion in 2002.
Among appliance retailers, home improvement chains Lowe's Cos. and Home Depot Inc. saw their sales climb at a greater pace than number-one seller Sears, Roebuck, the survey found.
Lowe's and Home Depot had appliance sales growth of 17 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively, last year, as both companies added U.S. stores. Lowe's is the nation's number two appliance retailer with 2003 sales of $3.5 billion, while Home Depot is third with sales of $2 billion, the research indicated.
Stephen Smith, TWICE editor in chief, said Home Depot, Lowe's and independent appliance retailers have benefited from the exit of retailer from the appliance business, and the closure of Montgomery Ward.
Sears, which added a wider assortment of appliances and took other moves last year to protect its leading market share, saw its 2003 appliance sales rise 3.7 percent to $5.6 billion, the TWICE survey said.
"Sears has had its own internal problems of slowing sales across the board, whether its major appliances or other areas," Mr. Smith said. "Still, it has had growth in major appliances."
Best Buy Co., the number four U.S. appliance retailer, had a 15.5 percent rise in appliance sales during 2003 to $1.3 billion, while Costco Wholesale Corp. ranked fifth as its appliance sales rose 13 percent to $947 million, the survey showed. (Reuters)
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