Decline in demand for new washing machines set to continue

Decline in demand for new  washing machines set to continue
Washing machines are still almost universal in UK households, but fewer people are buying new models ©iStockphoto.com/esemelwe

By Jon Whiteaker - 05:35PM - Mon 8th August 2011

In further bad news for the struggling home electricals market, the value of sales for washing machines and tumble dryers have declined significantly in the last year, new research reveals.

A culmination of improved machine performance and penny pinching has caused fewer consumers to consider buying a new model of laundry device.

Statistics produced by consumer analyst group Mintel show that whilst the overall market for washing machines has grow 1.3 per cent to £834 million since 2006, the number of units sold fell 7.5 per cent over the same period.

The picture is even bleaker for the tumble dryer market which saw the number of units sold in the five years to 2011 by a whopping 27 per cent, with a diminishing number of shoppers looking to replace older machines with newer models.

Neil Mason, Head of Retail Research at Mintel, explained that reliability of models has increased dramatically in recent years and with drum sizes for most machines also increasing they are being run less often.

Add a tough economic climate to the mix and it is easy to see why makers of these products have found them an increasingly hard sell.

“The market for washing machines is mainly driven by replacements as the vast majority of homes have a machine and they tend to wait to replace it when the old one becomes unreliable or breaks down,” Mason added.

“But as machines run less often, and quality improves, the replacement cycle is being stretched. So suppliers face a challenge of persuading consumers to trade up to higher price points and to replace their old appliances sooner, by emphasising the added benefits of new feature-rich machines.”

The ownership of washing machines in the UK is almost universal, with 88 per cent of people saying they owned one in 2010, but tumble dryers are much less common with 46 per cent of households owning one last year.

Only 16 per cent of those surveyed by Mintel think they will replace their machines in the next 12 months, and with energy bills set to soar during this winter people will be even more cautious about using their increasingly reliable machines.

Mintel argues that manufacturers should concentrate on creating better looking and quieter machines to inspire consumers to keep upgrading in the next few years.

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