Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Appliances get Black Friday boost

December 4, 2008

The beaten-down appliance sector got a shot in the arm on Black Friday as many consumers bought new washers for their laundry rooms, one spot survey shows.

Appliance sales, especially of washing machines and dryers, were up significantly over Thanksgiving weekend as shoppers responded to discounts, said David MacGregor, an analyst with Longbow Research.

More consumers are also buying extended warranties for these big-ticket items, he added.

MacGregor, who conducts regular surveys of appliance sellers, said 87 percent of retailer contacts indicated sales met or exceeded expectations, in some cases doubling forecasts for the weekend.

Sears, the biggest U.S. appliance retailer, benefited strongly as promotions and doorbuster offers drove Black Friday traffic. The retailer’s Black Friday deals included a Kenmore washer-dryer pair priced at $599 that normally sells for $1,199, a spokesman told Reuters.

“Based on our estimates of costs, we believe that Sears probably sold most of these heavily discounted items at or below cost and then tried to recover some margin through sales of extended warranties,” MacGregor said in a research note.

The continuing U.S. housing slump and tighter credit has hurt appliance demand. U.S. shipments of major appliances were down about 9 percent for the year to date through late October, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

The analyst said he expects the Black Friday strength to aid Whirlpool, whose brands hold leading market share positions in most categories. Whirlpool’s shares, which have fallen 50 percent this year, were up 8 percent on Thursday.

Photo: Whirlpool

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