Business / Economy

Last summer's heat wave in Japan helped push appliance shipments to 22-year high

Kyodo

Driven by strong sales of air conditioners, appliance shipments in terms of value reached their highest level in 22 years in 2018, an industry body said Monday.

The value, ¥2.45 trillion and up 4.1 percent from a year before, was also boosted by brisk sales of refrigerators and washing machines, according to the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association.

It was the third year in a row that the annual figure grew. Except for April, monthly shipments in 2018 were higher than the same month a year before.

Due to last summer’s scorching heat, the volume of air conditioner shipments hit 9.65 million units, an all-time high since officials began compiling comparable data in 1972. The value increased 9.4 percent from a year before to ¥790.9 billion.

Japan was hit by a deadly heat wave last year, prompting the Meteorological Agency to declare a natural disaster. The temperature rose to a record 41.1 degrees in July.

“The 2018 market was firm, at a time when a huge increase in shipments of white goods appliances is hard to expect on the back of the country’s decreasing population,” an association official said.

Demand for high-priced large electrical home appliances continued to be robust. By product, refrigerators rose 3.3 percent to ¥437 billion and washing machines grew 6.1 percent to ¥347 billion.

While vacuum cleaners remained almost flat, the value of microwave and rice cooker shipments decreased.