Microwave Oven Sales in U.S. Finally Back to Pre-Recession Levels

According to the International Houseware Association, microwave ovens can be found in more U.S. households (96%) than can any other home appliance.

According to the data aggregating company, Statista, annual U.S. shipments of microwave ovens, which totaled nearly 14 million units in 2005 and 2006, languished between 9 and 10 million units from 2009 to 2014. This caused anthropologists to question whether Americans’ infatuation with this modern marvel was on the wane. Healthcare professionals held out hope that the decline signaled a shift toward healthier, fresher foods. Appliance industry experts pointed to a slowdown in technical innovation, coupled with improved reliability and longer useful lives for nearly all appliances. Construction experts attributed the decline to the significant drop in new home construction during the protracted recession and slow recovery. Their assessment is likely spot on.

But in 2015, unit shipments jumped more than 20% in the U.S., to just below 12 million, prompting the question whether it was a one-time blip or a longer-term firming of demand. Statista’s projections suggest the latter, as the firm expects U.S. shipments will range between 11.5 and 12 million in 2016 and 2017 – in line with 2007 and 2008. New home construction will drive sales of built-in units; whereas innovations in smart appliance and wireless technologies are expected to drive sales of countertop models.

According to the International Houseware Association, microwave ovens can be found in more U.S. households (96%) than can any other home appliance. IHA reports only two other items rank above 90% in household penetration: clothes irons (95%) and ironing boards (91%). Electric coffee makers (84%) and blenders (82%) round out the Appliance Top 5.

Since over half of the microwave ovens sold each year are countertop models, kitchen carts are also experiencing higher demand. Butcher Block Co., a leading e-tailer of kitchen furniture and accessories, indicates sales of microwave carts, in particular, are on the rise. Butcher Block Co.’s VP of Marketing and Operations, Kathleen Grodsky, says “John Boos butcher block carts and Catskill Craftsmen hutch-style microwave carts are top sellers. A cart proves most valuable when you don’t have space on kitchen counters to store small appliances such as microwave ovens. Drop-leaf carts are also perennial favorites. Homemakers love their versatility. They don’t take up much floor space day in and day out, yet they provide valuable extra work space whenever it’s needed.”

About Butcher Block Co. – BBC sells countertops, plus kitchen carts, islands and tables, as well as butcher block cutting boards, kitchen knives and knife blocks. Its top-selling kitchen cart brands include John Boos, Catskill Craftsmen, Chris & Chris and Oasis Concepts.

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