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Refrigerator sales way behind projections

21-August-2004
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Refrigerator sales way behind projections

Refrigerator sales have failed street expectations by a huge margin during the first half of the year in what is being reckoned as a double whammy wrought in by overall bearish market sentiments compounded by a delayed monsoon.

ORG data reveals that refrigerator sales grew a measly 0.6 per cent during the first six months against a projected 15-16 per cent growth for the full year, according to Mr Arvind Mediratta, Vice-President (Marketing), Whirlpool Home Appliances.

The revival of the monsoon during the latter part of the season might just help the refrigerator sector post a growth of five per cent during the second half of the year, Mr Mediratta told Business Line here. It may be recalled that assessments made earlier by the Consumer Electronics and TV Manufacturers Association (CETMA) had projected that refrigerator sales would post double-digit growth during the current year. A forecast made by Francis Kanoi Marketing Research more or less corroborated this view.

The bleak performance is seen in washing machines as well. Sales have grown by just five per cent this year, Mr Mediratta said. A strange but interesting fact is that even during a period when disposable incomes may not have just added up, both the low-income and middle-income groups have shown a preference for the high-end products in refrigerators and washing machines. This means that the Indian consumer has truly evolved, and is favourably disposed to pay a premium for conveniences and special features, according to Mr Mediratta. Manufacturers have no option but to factor this aspect in while deciding on the product mix for the future.

For instance, Mr Mediratta said, in refrigerators, the high-end frost-frees (FFs) have grown by 14 per cent even as the sector as a whole posted flat growth. In washing machines, sales of fully automatic ones registered a 27 per cent growth during the same period (5 per cent as a whole for the sector). The bulk of the market, comprising direct-cools (refrigerators) and the semi-automatics (washing machines) have either de-grown or have posted flat growth, Mr Mediratta said.

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