By David Gill
CHICAGO–Small electrics bucked the downward trend in home furnishings by posting a dollar sales increase last year, according to new research by the NPD Group.
For 2007 overall, dollar sales of small appliances rose 4.5 percent, despite a flat 0.4 percent pickup in unit sales and despite a sluggish performance in the fourth quarter. This rise suggests that the strength of this market was in higher price points—and NPD’s survey results do show strength in the upper-tier price points for espresso-cappuccino makers, stand mixers, men’s electric shavers, handheld vacuums, upright vacuums and deep carpet cleaners.
Looking at the three major segments of small appliances, sale of home environment and personal care products enjoyed growth of 4 percent and 10 percent, respectively, year over year in 2007. Sales of kitchen electrics slipped 2 percent.
Commenting on these results in Housewares Marketwatch, a newsletter from the International Housewares Association, Peter Goldman, president of home for NPD, noted “some commonalities” in the sales trends of all small-electrics products. “Across categories, we saw and continue to see an emphasis on lifestyle management through the offering of products that address the need for convenience and multifunctionality, variety in color and design, and the trend toward eco-friendly or green,” Goldman said.
Advanced and innovative designs clearly benefited the home-cleaning market. For example, greater suction power and sleeker designs propelled handheld vacs to a whopping 19 percent increase in dollar sales last year, according to NPD’s data. High-end designs and multifunctional features boosted the market for trimmers, with dollar sales in this category climbing 6 percent last year. Sales of trimmers priced at $35 and more at retail boasted an increase of more than 50 percent in calendar 2007.
While kitchen electrics as a whole floundered last year, some products within the segment experienced strong sales. The popularity of gourmet coffees helped fuel a 15 percent rise in dollar sales of espresso-cappuccino makers—benefiting in a large part from the $20 jump in the average price of these machines. This development suggests that consumers will spare no expense when it comes to recreating their favorite espresso.