Large household appliance shipments in 2019 rose 2.7 percent from the previous year to ¥2.5 trillion, hitting the highest level since 1996, according to an industry group.

The growth was chiefly due to last-minute demand for air conditioners and other major appliances before the consumption tax was raised from 8 percent to 10 percent on Oct. 1, the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association said.

Air conditioner shipments climbed 2.6 percent to ¥811.5 billion. By volume, shipments increased 1.7 percent to 9.81 million units, marking a record high since comparable data became available in 1972, mainly thanks to the effects of extreme summer heat.

Shipments of washing machines and refrigerators were also robust. Large models, which allow people to wash clothes or store groceries for a full week, were popular due to an increase in the number of dual-income households.

On the outlook for white goods shipments in 2020, a JEMA official said that the fallback from the rush demand in the 2019 tax raise “is expected to be relatively small,” as demand was lower than that before the previous consumption tax increase in 2014.

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