Shipments Slow, As Market Softens

Shipments Slow, As Market Softens

Plumbing Products

The Freedonia Group said. The projected 3% annual gains for plumbing products through 2004, while steady, are significantly lower than the average annual 5.3% increases posted between 1994 and 1999, according to the study (see related graph, top right). Among the specific conclusions of the study are that (1) Plumbing fixture shipments, driven by gains in high-end products, are expected to approach $4.5 billion in 2004, on annual increases of 3.5%; (2) Plumbing fittings shipments are projected to increase 2.4% per year through 2004, to $4.7 billion; (3) Plumbing fixtures with the best growth prospects include whirlpool bathtubs and (integrated) shower systems. On the fittings side, bathtub and shower fittings offer the best growth prospects, the research firm said, noting that retrofit installations of pressure-balanced and thermostatic control valves will aid demand.

Appliance Shipments
Domestic shipments of major home appliances declined in October of 2000 compared to the same month a year earlier, although shipments through the first 10 months of the year were still running ahead of those in the January-October time period in '99, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reported last month. According to the Washington, DC-based AHAM, appliance shipments fell 11.1% in October of 2000, although year-to-date shipments were still 3.8% ahead of those in '99. The trade association noted, however, that much of the October decline was attributable to a 93% decline in the home comfort category. Declines, by comparison, were much smaller in such areas as cooking, kitchen cleanup and food preservation appliances, AHAM said.

Cabinet & Vanity Sales
Even in the face of a market that is showing signs of softening, sales of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities continued to post solid gains through the tail end of 2000, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association reported. The Reston, VA-based KCMA said in late November that manufacturers participating in the association's monthly "Trend of Business" survey reported that cabinet sales rose 9% in October 2000 over October 1999. Year-to-date cabinet sales from January to October 2000 were up 9.2% over the same 10-month period a year earlier, the KCMA added.

Market Analasys
Regional Outlook Projected to Be Varied in 2001

Washington, DC Some U.S. regions
will thrive, and others will begin to falter, as 2001 unfolds and the New Economy continues to take hold, a pair of well known economists are predicting (see related 'Forecast 2001' coverage, Page 51). Both economists offered their projections at the semi-annual Construction Forecast Conference, conducted here recently by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
According to Sara Johnson, North American Research Director and Chief Regional Economist for Standard & Poor's DRI, employment is rising in all U.S. regions, although growth rates vary.
Johnson's latest regional outlook noted that:
n The Pacific Southwest will lead the U.S. in job growth, benefitting from a steady in-migration of residents, strength in information technologies and a rebound in exports to Asia.
n The South Atlantic region, with its low costs, favorable climate and strong population growth, will place second in job growth in 2001, Johnson said.
n The West South Central region, boosted by rising oil and gas prices, "will see a pickup in growth" in 2001.
n Midwest economies "will be restrained" by a limited labor supply, weak agricultural markets and manufacturing layoffs.
n Despite strength in high-tech industries, the Northeast's growth "will lag [behind] the nation's," as a result of high costs, an out-migration of residents and a slowdown in financial services.
Economist Stanley Duobinis, director of forecasting for the NAHB, concurred with Johnson. "Almost all local economies are expanding, but there is still a wide range of expansion," Duobinis said. "In some areas, growth is being constrained by low unemployment rates and an inability to attract new in-migrants from other states," he noted.
The most active housing markets continue to be in the Southeast and West, Duobinis said, with the 10 most rapidly-expanding states being Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Idaho, California, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia and Delaware. The 10 weakest states are Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, Louisiana, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Mississippi.